Monday, August 29, 2005

 

Introducing Jeremy White

I wanted to introduce you to another fine Blogger that will be a part of Hockeybuzz.com.

Jeremy White has had an incredibly quick rise to Buffalo stardom at the age of only 26. He worked Sabres postgame shows in 2003-04 for 550 WGR. He joined the brand new WGR morning show in November of 2004 as co-host/update guy/executive producer. Very passionate about Sabres hockey and very knowledgeable in regards to the NHL. Here is a preview of what to expect on hockeybuzz.com come Sept 15.
*************************************

Jeremy White
WGR 550 Buffalo

====

Watching that free agent frenzy from the outside...

When the NHL's new CBA was announced, many Buffalo Sabres fans came away with a feeling of, "We won." One of the many small market teams, and one that had been through a bankruptcy, finally had hopes of competing on the same level as the big boys of the league.

As free agency opened up, there was a feeling (from fans) that the Sabres would be a player. They'd be chasing after free agents to fill out some roster spots. Miroslav Satan, and Alexei Zhitnik, two of the team's best players, both joined the New York Islanders. Many fans thought the team would be looking to fill those holes, and the market was full of players who could do the job. However, Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier was trying to tell fans that wasn't how it was going to work. While Regeir has been subject to criticism for this plan, it's my feeling that it's the right move.

First a breakdown of where the Sabres are: The team entered the free agency period with a mindset, to keep payroll between 27 and 29 million dollars. They'd spend enough money to compete, and at the same time, be eligible for the league's revenue sharing. This is an organization that has been losing money, some reports in the neighborhood of 10 million dollars for the 2003 season.

Free agency opened, and the Sabres didn't bite. The defense, which was the biggest issue, was not helped until Teppo Numminen signed on. As you might estimate, it wasn't a signing that brought a parade in the streets of Buffalo.

The Sabres approach to the new CBA seems to be a "wait and see." Darcy Regier has been criticized at times for being too patient. His critics say that he's afraid to pull the trigger on trades, won't spend money on free agents, doesn't trade away players when he can get something in return, and] the Sabres approach in free agency just adds to the reputation. He's afraid. While the previous criticisms may be accurate, the latest isn't fair, YET.

The Sabres like their team; that should be noted first. There are a lot of young players that got good experience in the AHL with the Amerks last year. I think the organization would LOVE Ryan Miller to take the starting goaltender job. That would allow some flexibility with both Martin Biron and Mika Noronen. In the case of Biron, he's set to make over 2 million dollars, to compete for the starting job. That doesn't seem right.

Thomas Vanek, the team's 1st round draft pick of 2 years ago had a MONSTER year in Rochester. He'll be up with the team. At the trade deadline of 2003, Mike Grier was acquired. It almost feels like he'll be a brand new player this year, because his time in Buffalo has been short to this point.

The organization has bright futures, but the team needs a playoff appearance as soon as possible. This is where the Sabres find themselves in a fix. The fans have been patient and want playoffs now. While the Sabres would love to reach that goal, they won't sacrifice the next 5 years to do it this year.

Regier wants to "wait and see," what the NHL will be like under the new system. How important is goaltending going to be? How much of a role will the enforcer play? Do you have to be big and tough on the blue line, or is it speedy defenseman that will flourish?

Look no further than Sabres defenseman Jay McKee. The team declined an option on his contract, and now he may just take a one year qualifying offer. McKee is hoping to work out an extension, but if the Sabres opt NOT to extend McKee, it's another indicator that they aren't quite sure what to expect from the new league and it's new rules. Is McKee going to be able to keep up? Is he worth a 3-4 year deal? Maybe he is, but the team isn't likely to go in blind. They'll opt to "wait and see."

For Regier the biggest issue is not the money of these new contracts, it's the term. He's not going to lock himself into a long term contract, especially when you have NO idea what the league is actually going to look like.

For anyone that has criticized the Sabres for a lack of action in free agency, remember one thing. It happens again next year. All the teams that went CRAZY this past offseason, won't be moving much come 2006. The Sabres can now compete, in theory, with the big boys. Regier has been cautious, and while it hasn't been very popular in Buffalo, it is the right move. After all, the playing field has been leveled for more than just this one year.

Comments or questions or anything like that: whitey@wgr550.com

Jeremy White



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?