Grading the Sabres: Adam, Chewy and those departed

This is the final group of forwards I will evaluate. This set of grades will actually include reviews of the three players who were traded at the deadline, plus a pair of centers who are still with the team.

Luke Adam – B-

Adam sort of got a raw deal this season. After a scorching hot start, he ended up in the doghouse and eventually was sent down to Rochester after the All-Star break. His demotion was permanent as he is still playing on the farm. I loved his play with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville and I contend that line should probably have stayed together through the brief slump that eventually led to Adam being sent to Rochester.

Adam did struggle some along the way this year and may have needed more seasoning. However, I think he was handled poorly and I question if his confidence has been shaken by the way Lindy Ruff decided to ship him away.

All things considered, Szczechura proved he is a capable depth forward, perfect for the AHL and spot call-up duty.

Paul Szczechura – B

Just one game short of ten, I felt comfortable giving Szczechura a grade for his play. He was called up in the middle of Buffalo’s injury crunch and actually outperformed some regulars. He had a few very nice games at center and proved that he is more than worthy of an early call up in the future. Like Derek Whitmore, Szczechura doesn’t fill a fourth line role all that well but has that offensive touch that makes him intriguing to recall. Again, if the Sabres are in need of a bit more skill, Szczechura is likely to get a call. Continue reading

Double Minors: Sabres 4 – Blue Jackets 2

Just call them the Subway Line.

Vanek-Adam-Pominville, call them The Subway Line

Thanks to Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville, plenty of Buffalonians will be eating free subs after home games this season. The people at Subway will be second guessing their decision to say three goals is all the Sabres need to score in order to qualify for the free sandwich.

I understand that the Senators had the Pizza Line a few years ago, but this is not an imitation of the Sens power line. This is a different giveaway and a different set of players.

The Sabres’ power line racked up seven points (2+5) and Pominville earned first star honors for his effort this evening. Brad Boyes and Pat Kaleta also factored in the scoring for the Sabres.

Buffalo nearly gave back another two-goal lead at home before Kaleta’s go-ahead tally late in the third. After a sound first period, the Sabres slept walked through much of the second and third period. Two defensive gaffes by the Sabres resulted in the Columbus goals. This time the Sabres were able to battle back and lock down their first home win.

The first period featured two fights, 30 shots and Buffalo’s first home power play goal of the season. After Pominville’s tally in the second, the Sabres took a break. Vinny Prospal scored on a transition play created by a Christian Ehrhoff turnover and Fedor Tyutin tied the game in the third period.

Kaleta’s winner came at the end of a hard shift for Buffalo’s grind line and Pominville sealed it with a late power play goal.

Jhonas Enroth had another great outing and potentially made a case to get back in the crease sooner than a week from now.

  • The Sabres power play finally got clicking, going 2-for-3 on the night. They didn’t get much help from the zebras, the Sabres were whistled for six minors. Still, Buffalo managed to exploit openings in the Blue Jackets penalty kill in order to score their goals. Boyes’ tally came off a beautiful passing play on the rush, while Pominville’s was equally pretty as Vanek found him from behind the net.
  • Despite having a tough turnover that resulted in a goal, Ehrhoff did some things well tonight. He was shut off at the point, but his volley into the corner helped set up Kaleta’s winner. Ehrhoff seems to be settling in a bit and looks to have developed a comfort zone with his partner, Andrej Sekera.
  • The Sabres didn’t give a full 60 minutes, as some might say. They allowed an inferior team to put 43 shots on goal while taking six penalties. While the Sabres have the luxury of two goaltenders who can bail them out of that situation, the defense needs to be shored up. This is the perfect opportunity to insert Mike Weber into the lineup.
  • Weber could replace Marc-Andre Gragnani without missing a beat. Gragnani seems to be a little anxious when he has the puck on his stick and he has not been sound in his own zone. Simply put, the Sabres have too many offensive defenseman in the lineup. They need a little more responsibility in their top six.
  • Enroth was a bear in net. He had a few awkward moments, but that is going to be commonplace for the youngster. Enroth plays an almost uncomfortable style that can make fans nervous when a shot comes through. He probably didn’t earn a start on Saturday, but he should see time at least once next week.
  • Pat Kaleta scoffed a bit at The Code when he declined a fight with Cody Bass before obliging him shortly thereafter. As it turns out he has a pretty nasty cut and infection on his nose, not something that was noticeable in-arena. However, he made it his mission to run Vinny Prospal through the glass any chance he had in the third period. That is the type of play I want to see more of from Kaleta.
  • Yes, Tyler Myers had a few tough shifts. He definitely doesn’t appear to be at 100% efficiency just yet. Perhaps he has a few offseason habits he needs to kick. Who knows? He had a few tough plays this evening but also made a handful of smart, sound plays as well. It is too easy for Sabres fans to pile on these players after one or two bad plays. Evaluate the player’s entire game or don’t evaluate it at all.
  • Matt Ellis dressed and the Sabres won. You can’t deny that the dude would run through a wall if needed. It will be hard to take him out of the lineup.
  • Brad Boyes has come alive. He had a great game against the Panthers and has started finding the net once again. He is certainly benefitting from playing with the team’s two hottest scorers on the power play. But he is showing quite a bit of life. He is suddenly looking like the guy who went on a tear from the first game he arrived in Buffalo.

Three Stars

1. Jason Pominville

2. Jhonas Enroth

3. Patrick Kaleta

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Game Summary

Event Summary

Europe approaches with one move to make

It has been a summer full of new faces, surprises and salary cap calculations. The situation surrounding the Buffalo Sabres roster finally became clear on Monday afternoon.

After waiving Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn over the weekend, Buffalo was on their way to unloading the money they needed to get under the cap. Meanwhile, Darcy Regier also sent down the remaining batch of prospects and veterans who had been searching for a roster spot.

While the organization waited to see if Kotalik or Morrisonn were claimed, the roster in Rochester got the remaining pieces they will use this season. Only Luke Adam and Matt Ellis remained in Buffalo after the cuts. Paul Szczechura also is with the Sabres, but The Buffalo News reports that he is injured as hasn’t been skating. Continue reading

Buffalo Sabres season preview: Black Aces

This is part five of a series previewing the Buffalo Sabres 2011-12 season. This edition will focus on the wingers and centers expected to play in Rochester. Here are links for parts one through four: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Zack Kassian is on the fence between Buffalo and Rochester at this point.

It is fairly easy to write out a rough depth chart based on the abundance of talent the Sabres have at wing. It has a trickle-down effect to the AHL level based on the players who are assumed to make the NHL roster, and those who will be riding the bus in Rochester.

The centers are being roped into this equation simple because there is very little organizational depth at the center position.

Aside from Zack Kassian and Ales Kotalik, the rest of the wingers in the Buffalo Sabres system are penciled in to begin the year playing for the Americans. Even Kotalik is likely to be sent down due to salary constraints. Since Kassian has seen little time at the AHL level, let alone against NHL talent, some seasoning in the minors will do him well. I fully expect to see him playing in every situation for Rochester as he is likely the top candidate to snag the AHL Rookie of the Year award for the Sabres organization. Continue reading

Double Minors: Sabres prospects claim Traverse City championship

Count it as the first championship in the Pegula era. The Buffalo Sabres prospects claimed the 2011 Traverse City NHL Prospect Tournament championship in their first appearance in the event with a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers prospects. Be sure to check out for Kevin Snow’s coverage and video highlights.

Buffalo sent a squad with numerous veterans, including the reigning AHL Rookie of the Year, and their dominance showed. The Sabres never trailed in the contest and asserted their victory with three third period goals. Nathan Lieuwen provided another strong performance as he ran his tournament record to 2-0 with five goals against.

The gamesheets are all kinds of incorrect on the Pointstreak website, so I can’t give a full statistical analysis. For example, Zack Kassian was credited with the final Sabres goal which was clearly scored by Marcus Foligno. Still, Kassian finished with four points which ties him with Luke Adam, Nick Crawford, Jonathon Parker and Phil Varone. If my math is correct, Marcus Foligno led the Sabres with five points (3+2).

Continue reading

Pre draft buzz – Robyn Regehr asked to waive his NMC

News broke on Thursday that Calgary defenseman Robyn Regehr was asked to waive his no movement clause to accept a trade to Buffalo.

This would be a fantastic trade for Buffalo, Regehr would certainly fill one of the major voids on the blue line and would likely provide a good veteran partner for Tyler Myers.

There are about 500 different reports floating around regarding who the Sabres will be sending. The big name appears to be Luke Adam in a deal that would likely include a draft pick – my guess is Buffalo’s third round selection. Other names floated around are Nik Hagman, Ales Kotalik and Matt Stajan. Personally, I don’t see a world where Buffalo would bring back Kotalik, nor would I want to accept Hagman and his $3m salary. Stajan is an interesting option and easily the most attractive in a trade scenario. He can play center and would certainly add depth at a position where the Sabres are weak.

I am hopeful that this trade comes through. I would be OK with seeing Adam and a pick go to Calgary for a package of Regehr and Stajan. Is that an acceptable trade? Who knows. What can be said is both teams have reached an agreement and are simply waiting on Regehr to approve the deal.