High Noon Cometh

By Chris

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Nick Mendola is hosting a live chat starting at 11:30 a.m. I’ll be chipping in when I can from work, so don’t be a stranger.

Now let’s look at the state of the homefront on Free Agent Eve.

John Wawrow is reporting that there are several scenarios that “intrigue” Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn, who wouldn’t go into details. So we can only speculate. And honestly, I have no idea what the hell what that means.

Is it intriguing to him that general manager Darcy Regier might replace Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder with Mike Weber and Marc-Andre Gragnani? Because I don’t see that as intriguing. I see that as a fire-able offense. I’ve said I don’t expect the Sabres to really do anything when it comes to free agency, especially right away, so maybe Quinn is looking at trade scenarios that will open up when cash-strapped teams truly look to start dumping salary.

It might be tough to see Lydman and Tallinder go if their replacements aren’t up to snuff. These are two players that we’ve both loved and hated over the last five years. I once said they had the potential to be one of the best pairings in the NHL. Looking back at how they played in 2005-06 and most of 2006-07, I don’t think that prediction was preposterous at all. They were so, so good in stretches, but Tallinder couldn’t stay healthy and Lydman couldn’t overcome that signature mental lapse every now and then.

I wish them well wherever they end up playing. Hopefully at least one of them comes back next season. If not, then, like I said, I hope that whoever takes their minutes makes them easy to forget.

(Sorry about that stupid ad)

The Sabres will be looking for a true No. 1 center, a defenseman to quarterback the powerplay and a backup goalie. They may not address any of those concerns tomorrow and I wouldn’t freak out about that. The first day of free agency is for signings and the Sabres probably aren’t going to sign anyone besides a back-up goalie.

However, by the time things have cooled down by the middle of next week, I would start being very concerned if we don’t see and hear things from the front office that resemble progress. The Fourth of July holiday is traditionally a busy one for Regier. I hope we can get out of the weekend before the army of ALL CAPITAL LETTER screaming idiot fans carrying pitchforks and torches gather outside of HSBC Arena.

Another interesting story in that Wawrow article has to do with Cody McCormick. The tough winger had a pretty good season in Portland and impressed the hell out of a lot of people when he was called up for the Boston series. Apparently those people don’t work in the Sabres front office, who have “no interest” in McCormick. That’s a little unsettling.

That means it looks like either Adam Mair or Matt Ellis will be re-signed to play on the fourth line. The Sabres have always been very high on Ellis so expect them to make him an offer. Mair’s another guy I hope does well next season, but his time with the Sabres has come and gone.

Some quick predictions on the few big-name free agents. Keep in mind that these are just knee-jerk reactions.

Ilya Kovlachuk: Los Angeles
Evgeni Nabokov: Tampa Bay
Seregi Gonchar: Anaheim
Paul Kariya: New York Rangers
Maxim Afinogenov: St. Louis
Paul Martin: New Jersey
Teemu Selanne: Anaheim
Mike Modano: Minnesota (I can dream, right?)
Anton Volchenkov: Buffalo (Still dreaming)
Miroslav Satan: Hell (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)


  1. You do realize that Volchenkov and Lydman are largely the same player, right? Lydman is actually a bit more productive offensively, and Volchenkov is a bit more physical, but both are tough, hitting, shot blocking defensemen. Volchenkov has missed 10+ games in each of the last four years (from memory) and Lydman has performed better in the playoffs. Add to the fact that they make roughly the same amount of money (though Volchenkov will likely command more in FA based on reputation) and AV starts looking rather unpalatable.

    • Volchenkov is much better than Lydman defensively. With Ottawa, Volchenkov matched up against the other team’s top line every night and is a monster on the penalty kill.

      He also loves to block shots. He led the league in that stat in 2006-07, finished second in 2008-09 and has finished in the top 10 every year since the lockout.

      Lydman was perennially in the top 20 in shot-blocking up until this past season when he finished 102nd. That has to be a concern.

      Volchenkov probably has three or four more quality years left in him before he starts breaking down. Lydman might very well have the same lifespan and he’s three years older. Health is an issue, but I think those three years for Volchenkov will be better than for Lydman based on level of play. At the same time, if they bring Lydman back, that’s fine with me. You know exactly what you’re paying for and from all accounts, he seems like a good locker room guy.