Grading the Sabres: Role Players

Next on the report card list are role players and a few re-calls from Rochester.

Patrick Kaleta – B-

Kaleta had another rough and tumble season in which he dealt with injuries and suspensions. He was effective playing his gritty style, although the offense wasn’t where it was a few seasons ago when he was an ideal third line grinder.

As an RFA, I wonder if Kaleta could be on his way out the door. At some point Darcy Regier will probably start trimming a few dollars here and there to keep his top six at an elite level. Many teams do this in one way or another. While Kaleta fills a valuable spot, he could be deemed expendable.

For what it’s worth, Kaleta would be very difficult to replace. He had another great year blocking shots and being very defensively responsible. Those types of forwards are tough to come by, which could be a primary reason Kaleta is back for next season.

Cody McCormick – C-

McCormick’s chance at building on a terrific 2010-11 was derailed by concussion issues. While he did a nice job as an enforcer and filling a fourth line role, his sporadic play (due to injury) kept him from producing offensively. He only had one goal this season and when paying over one million dollars for a fighter/grinder, you need more production than that. Continue reading

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

Sabres bubble battle

As the Rochester Americans prepare to open training camp, and the Buffalo Sabres pare down their roster, the battle for the remaining roster spots is becoming clearer.

Ales Kotalik's prowess in the shootout may earn him a spot on the final roster.

 

With the 11 prospects sent to Rochester this morning, there are only 41 players left in camp, and only 24 or 25 will be seriously fighting to avoid a drive up the 90. On the bubble are; Brad Boyes, Matt Ellis, Ales Kotalik, Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Ryan, Colin Stuart and Paul Szczechura. On the outside looking in are; Luke Adam, T.J. Brennan, Dennis Persson, Zack Kassian and Drew Schiestel. Corey Tropp earned a couple looks through the preseason, but I feel like he is still floating below guys like Adam, Kassian and the NHL veterans as well. Continue reading

Buffalo Sabres season preview: Wingin’ it

Thomas Vanek is a prime candidate to be the Sabres' next captain.

This is part four in a series previewing the Buffalo Sabres 2011-12 season. Part four focuses on the wingers. Read the previous three entries here.

Darcy Regier has a knack for acquiring wingers. It probably has a lot to do with the league-wide overabundance at the position. Still, the Sabres have a stockpile of talented wingers entering training camp this week.

There are eight openings available and at least ten players vying for a spot on the opening night roster. Based on the salary figures – the Sabres are still $3.5 million over the cap – the projected depth chart is fairly easy to lay out. There are a handful of players who a prime trade candidates, but without anything more than vague rumors it is unfair to speculate who will be part of the organization in a few weeks.

Although the top four wingers are likely locks, the remaining four positions are up for grabs, so to speak. Due to contract structure, intangibles and production; Tyler Ennis, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek are all likely to be safe from a trade or demotion to Rochester.

Continue reading

Sabres hit the ceiling, re-sign Ellis and Sekera

The past few weeks have been pretty boring for most hockey fans and suddenly a few GMs woke up today and made some noise.

Tampa Bay reached an agreement with Steven Stamkos for some big money, Anaheim extended Andrew Cogliano and the Devils announced Pete DeBoer as the next head coach that Lucky Lou will fire.

Darcy Regier got his hands dirty with two more signings as well. He re-signed Matt Ellis and Andrej Sekera each to a multi-year contract. Ellis will be with the Sabres for two more seasons while Sekera was re-upped for four more years. These came on the heels of a pair of minor league contracts for Dennis Persson and Travis Turnbull, somewhat irrelevant but necessary signings.

The terms of the Ellis deal are not fully disclosed, but Bill Hoppe reported that Ellis will be under a two-way contract for the 2011-12 season and a one-way deal for 2012-13. I’m glad to see Ellis back in the fold. He is likely destined for Rochester as he served very well as the Portland Pirates captain last season. He will certainly be one of the first players called up by Lindy Ruff if there is an injury. Another bonus to signing Ellis? The Sabres are 76-39-16 with him in the lineup the past three seasons and 53-49-13 without him (see #EllisPrinciple or #MattEllisEffect). Thanks to Ian Ott for tweeting those stats. Continue reading