The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 06/20/11 at 04:42 PM ET
We’ve already been told that the Buffalo Sabres under Terry Pegula won’t let financial considerations impede their pursuit of greatness, but specifically to what lengths are they willing to go?
With the recent announcement that the NHL salary cap is expected to be at or near $64M, teams in markets larger than Buffalo are certainly licking their chops for the chance to grab some big name talent. The past two seasons have proven that landing a free agent prize like Zdeno Chara or Marian Hossa can help lead sooner or later to a Stanley Cup parade.
Just in case Sabres fans needed any reaffirmation of the commitment of their team not to be left out of the party, what we heard from team president Ted Black at Thursday night’s Sabres Blogger Summit was of a similar tone to what’s been promised since his first day on the job.
I don’t believe that Sabres fans realistically expect the team to sign Brad Richards or trade for Jeff Carter, but I think folks would be excited at the prospect of Darcy Regier at least taking a legitimate stab at landing one of these guys as the top line center the Sabres desperately need. If nothing else, the effort would confirm to the rest of the league that Buffalo really means business.
Being in a hypothetical mood, I got specific with Black and asked if he would be open to going as high as a nine- or ten-year contract commitment to get a franchise player.
Davis: Have you talked to Darcy about how far you’re willing to go (in pursuit of an A-list free agent) in terms of a high risk/reward contract? Are you willing, say, to commit to a nine- or ten-year deal if that’s what it’ll take?
Black: Have I talked to Darcy specifically about a nine- or ten-year deal? No. Have I talked with Darcy and Terry about being very aggressive in the market and doing whatever it takes? Yes. We’re not going to be shut out of the conversation based on a budget. The only number we need to worry about is what the NHL salary cap is going to be. It is a relevant consideration, because it is risk/reward as you said, to go nine or ten years because, if you do any kind of statistical analysis of contracts in any sport, in the first years after any player signs a big long-term contract, the productivity as a general rule goes down. I’m not saying it happens to every player, but there is a statistical correlation. We’d have to take all these things into consideration.
Davis: So if it took that kind of deal to get somebody, you would have an appetite to do that?
Black: I think so. I’ll say it another way - we wouldn’t rule it out.
Based on what Black said Thursday night and what he’s been saying all along, it might not be wrong to imply that the only thing that will keep some of the hottest free agent names from coming to Buffalo will be, well, their desire to come to Buffalo.
Black has been pushing Buffalo as Hockey Heaven and a place where free agents would be best served to play. As this process plays out over the coming weeks, it appears as though we’ll soon find out how well his message has been received.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]