A busy weekend in the National Hockey League. Let’s start with the newest additions to the franchise.
The Buffalo Sabres 2009 Draft Class:
1 (13) Zack Kassian RW Peterborough Petes
3 (66) Brayden McNabb D Kootenay Ice
4 (104) Marcus Foligno LW Sudbury Wolves
5 (134) Mark Adams D Malden Catholic High School
6 (164) Connor Knapp G Miami University
7 (194) Maxime Legault RW Shawingan Cataractes
-All are bigger than 6-foot-1. It’s nice to see management and scouting recognize they have too many small players in the system.
-All are North American (the third straight year the Sabres have not drafted a European).
-Here’s a video of Kassian injuring the new savior of Long Island John Tavares in a CHL Prospects Game in January.
-And this is McNabb delivering a big hit and then dropping the gloves.
-Foligno is the son of former Sabre captain Mike Foligno and brother of Ottawa’s Nick Foligno. WGR’s Nick Mendola was gushing over this fight video of Marcus this morning.
-Connor Knapp is a 6-foot-5-inch goaltender. Wowzers.
-A successful weekend even if the Sabres didn’t do anything to improve the current roster, but there’s still a lot of time for that (basically up until the puck drops in October).
-D.O. from Die By the Blade was in Montreal. Here’s his wrap-up.
-For more detailed reports on each pick, be sure to check out SabresProspects.com.
With each passing hour, it seems more and more likely that Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek will test the free agent market. It would be nice if the Sabres could sign him for at three years at under $3.8 million but he’ll probably be offered at least $4 million/year range.
He’ll be 35 years old, but put up strong numbers and has been one Buffalo’s most reliable defensemen over the last two seasons. It won’t be easy to see him go if he does choose another team.
From the Sabres Edge blog:
Sabres right wing Drew Stafford is a restricted free agent, but GM Darcy Regier said signing him before the marketplace opens Wednesday is not a priority despite the fact the 23-year-old could attract an offer sheet. The Sabres were victimized by a bid two years ago when Edmonton signed Thomas Vanek to a $50 million offer, which Buffalo matched.
Stafford won’t command the price Vanek did in 2007, but it would be nice if they showed a bit more urgency. Andrej Sekera is another player who could garner interest as a restricted free agent.
The Calgary Flames now have exclusive negotiating rights with defenseman Jay Bouwmeester until July 1. The Flames have had some cap issues recently with their Big Three of Jerome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf and Miikka Kiprusoff so it will be interesting to see how they fit Bouwmeester’s new cap hit into the budget.
Florida received pending UFA Jordon Leopold and a pick in the trade, and that they even got that much is a positive for the Panthers. Better to get something than absolutely nothing for a guy the team was going to lose anyways (as Sabres fans have learned the hard way over the last few years). It’s still tough to fault the Panthers for holding on to Bouwmeester and trying to make the playoffs in February.
Puck Daddy has some interesting quotes from Randy Sexton, Florida’s acting general manager.
The Bouwmeester deal was set in motion by the Anaheim Ducks sending future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger and forward Ryan Dingle to Philadelphia for defenseman Luca Sbisa, forward Joffrey Lupul, two first-round picks and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011. The Flyers gave up a heck of a lot in that trade for Pronger, who’s entering the last year of his current contract. Expect the Flyers to make more moves to clear cap space (Scott Hartnell or Daniel Briere could be on the move).
Pronger gives the Flyers something they need in the tough Atlantic Divison: a nice counter to Crosby and Malkin and to the Rangers offense, a rude awakening for Tavares, and someone to make Philly-New Jersey trap games even more boring. It’s too bad that Ray Emery is currently Philadelphia’s starting goaltender. Otherwise they might be a Cup front-runner.
Free agency opens up on Wednesday. Look for us to be running a live blog as we inch closer to the start of the 2009-10 season. Expect our annual “Facebooking the Draft Class” feature as well and be sure to become a fan of our Facebook page. It’s going to be a fun summer (no, really).