You take a few days vacation and of course the Sabres do a lot while you're gone. Here's some thoughts to unclutter my mind:
---No question the Sabres wanted Jhonas Enroth (left) to return as their backup goaltender. There were some Internet reports he was looking at the KHL, which would have been utterly foolish for him to do, and an even more foolish tweet from his brother, Mattias, that tried to pressure the Sabres. (Seriously? For an RFA goalie with little leverage who did a great job but won only nine games? If I'm Enroth I tell my brother in no uncertain terms to can it.)
So yesterday's announcement of a two-year deal is yet another solid summer signing for this club, which has overpaid some free agents (who doesn't these days?) but is clearly way better than it was when it finished the season in the playoffs against the Flyers. (Enroth's deal is for $1.35 million total at a cap hit of $675K per)
Now the Sabres can head into the season knowing they have a solid tandem in net, something they really haven't had since Marty Biron left. And it's thus paramount for Lindy Ruff to keep Ryan Miller's workload light. My goal would be 60 games in the regular season for Miller with Enroth getting 22. That's a low total for Miller based on previous seasons but he's not 24 anymore either. He just turned 31 on Sunday! And the plan here is to be playing hockey deep into May and maybe June, right?
Enroth can play. We know that. Ruff has to play him. One other Enroth note: Mattias tweeted yesterday that he and Jhonas celebrated the deal with ice cream. Ooooooooooook.
---A four-year, $11-million-plus deal for Andrej Sekera? Really? The numbers, especially offensively, were pointing Sekera's way in arbitration but this one is all about potential. Are the Sabres getting the guy who can be maddening to the point where Ruff needs to scratch him or the guy who was a monster for that one small stretch last season or for Slovakia in the Olympics? It's a risk worth taking if it pans out. But the money ups the ante. Sekera isn't a kid learning on the job anymore with that kind of contract.
---Speaking of money upping the ante, I'm baffled by all the people suddenly raging that Tim Connolly was picked on in the media during his time here. How many of you heard the boos in HSBC Arena, at times late in the year every time he touched the puck? He was a $4.5 million player who suddenly became a penalty killer and didn't score a goal for 29 straight playoff games. What exactly are people supposed to write? How many Paul Hamilton between-periods interviews on WGR correctly said Connolly was pretty much useless but also pointed out he might have been the hottest guy going in the NHL until his 2006 concussion?
Then there are those who say some of the criticism of Connolly got too personal. There are both sides to that argument. But the lightning rod was a recent Toronto Sun column that described Connolly as "Soft. Sullen. Difficult. Loner. Spoiled brat. Silver spoon kid. Entitled. Not a team player."
Repeating: That was written in the TORONTO SUN. And both readers and other media outlets are leaving out the next line too: "And one more thing: Supremely skilled." Pretty important omission.
Last point on Connolly: Criticism of a player is not because there's a lack of cooperation with the media. The only time I asked to speak to Connolly in the last four years where he failed to show up was on this year's locker cleanout day. He was generally never at his locker after games and practices and generally always willing to come to it for interviews when asked to by the team's PR staff. He should have been there anyway but it's not like he refused either. There's no connection. Plenty of players who are great with the media get criticized harshly too.
---What is this team going to do about its salary cap issues? The Sabres have yet to sign Marc-Andre Gragnani and are already about $3.5 million over the cap. They don't have to get down to it until the season opener and it's widely assumed the roughly $5 million of Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn will be stashed in Rochester. But that's still only going to leave a few hundred thousand dollars of space to start the season.
I figure the Sabres have to be looking at wanting a cushion of $3-4 million, not perhaps $600,000. There has to be a deal coming. Has to. And maybe one bigger than we think. Here's one thought: Brad Boyes better not be house-hunting. Month-to-month lease, dude.
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