I’ve got a ton of thoughts on yesterday’s press conference and I know the other guys do as well. We’ll get to those soon because there’s a lot to say.
For now, let’s start with the news of the day and that’s the first roster move made under Terry Pegula’s ownership: the waiving of captain Craig Rivet.
Essentially the team’s eighth defenseman, Rivet has only played in 23 of the team’s 58 games this season and is making the most money of any player on the Buffalo blueline. Rivet has battled injuries the last few seasons and, unfortunately, it looks like the game has passed him by.
If another team takes a chance on him, then good for him. He’s been a class act through it all and it would be great if he got another opportunity to play.
If he clears waivers, he could be sent down to Portland, he could stay with the team (remember Adam Mair last season?) or the Sabres could buy out the remainder of his contract.
It’s also not unreasonable to predict that Rivet retires if no team claims him. This, of course, assumes that Rivet really does believe that he can’t play anymore. The Sabres still owe him $865,951 according to CapGeek.com and it’s well within Rivet’s rights to collect the rest of that salary so that alone could give him a reason to stick around.
So with Rivet basically off the roster (for now), who could replace him as captain? Unfortunately, that player might not be on the team yet. But of the guys on the active roster, these skaters best fit the bill. Here’s the latest edition of Potential New Captain Power Rankings:
1. Thomas Vanek (Last Ranking: 1)
Atlas has been a beast this year. Maybe he finally deserves a letter on his chest.
2. Jason Pominville (2)
He’s a leader in the room and he’s under contract for awhile. Is he ready for that role?
3. Mike Grier (NR)
If anything, this would simply be a short-term fix to finish out the season. Grier might not be back next season either.
4. Paul Gaustad (3)
He’s put together a nice stretch of games and his defense has improved. Also, he’s already got an “A.”
5. Jordan Leoplod (4)
A lot of what I said in the last rankings still rings true: “Logging a ton of big minutes, has already taken control of the music in the locker room and could certainly have been an All-Star.”
6. Jochen Hecht (NR)
Like Grier, this would be a Band-Aid captaincy except has a few more years left on his current deal.
My best guess as to what happens with the “C” if Rivet is gone is that no one wears it for the rest of this season. No reason to rush it or put unnecessary pressure on a player who isn’t ready for it.
Makes you wonder what else the Pegula Era has in store for us in the near future.