What a difference a year makes.
Last year the Sabres refused to negotiate in season with players. Regardless of the truth value of Bucky’s story on past negotiations, you all know what resulted of staying mum in season.
Exit Briere and Drury, and suddenly Darcy and the Boys get gabby.
Overall, you can’t blame them for the shift in philosophy, and their decision to start with Jochen Hecht. The players voted him their captain, and I really do think that if that’s the case he should wear the C permanantly. That being said, getting him under contract long term is a great sign of commitment to your players, and anything will help after the past summer’s events.
The numbers of the deal aren’t very extravagant, either. Three million a year for a player like Jochen may turn out to be a steal down the road. Coming off a career high in points and taking a leadership role on the team this year, we still may not have seen his best game yet, and if not, his contract is still tradable down the road.
Even with the Vanek and Roy deals, you can’t fault Darcy’s other signings as of yet. Locking up Paetsch for three years may be a bargan at >$1 per year, and extending Hecht means the only forward with UFA status in July will be the 178 year old “prospect” Mike Ryan.
A quick look at the cap figures shows a lot of UFA symbols left in the defensive category, but Teppo is likely to retire and Kalinin may not be worth retaining at that money. Honestly, with Nathan already playing a big role in the D with Teppo’s ticker on the fritz, and Sekera making a big impression in camp this September, signing Campbell may be the only absolutely necessary negotiation left for Darcy come summer.
Again, all of this is pure speculation, but it is nice to see progress made rather than panic. A small market team like Buffalo needs to be constantly looking towards the future. This is a team not capable of signing Foresburgs and Blakes, but more than capable of locking up Hechts and growing Staffords.
The way Soupy’s come out of the gate, he better give that redhead a call.