In The Cards: Jacques Lemaire’s pre-emptive Sabres card

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Trading card companies have made plenty of errors on hockey cards in the past. Sometimes, they might misspell a player’s name, print an incorrect stat or even use a photo of a teammate by mistake. But this gaffe from 40 years ago may trump them all. In the hockey card sets issued by Topps and O-Pee-Chee during the 1974-75 season, Montreal Canadiens center Jacques Lemaire is erroneously pictured as a member of the Buffalo Sabres — a team he never played for. A close-up photo had been doctored, with Sabres colors painted over Lemaire’s Canadiens jersey. According to the Hockey Hall of Fame website, it was speculated that Lemaire was going to be dealt to the Sabres, so the card companies responded in kind, albeit a bit prematurely. Read more

Could Cody Franson make the Buffalo Sabres a playoff team?

Matt Larkin
Cody Franson.  (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cody Franson sure seemed destined to cash in a-la Scrooge McDuck this summer, diving into a pit of money. With each passing day, his situation increasingly resembles that of the exact opposite: a down-on-his-luck beggar.

OK, so that’s an exaggeration. Franson isn’t wandering the streets asking for a team to sign him. He is, however, running painfully low on suitors. He’s expressed how sick he is of one-year deals and, as a right-shot defenseman, he should command a hefty price tag. But there just aren’t many teams with the wiggle room for a multi-year deal at what should more than double, if not triple, the cap hit of Christian Ehrhoff’s new pact with L.A.

The Kings would’ve been a nice fit for Franson as long as suspended Slava Voynov’s cap hit remained off the books, but they opted for the far cheaper Ehrhoff. The Boston Bruins sure seem like a fit but, with $4.76 million in cap space, would press themselves up against the cap or over it with a Franson contract.

That voice you hear in the distance? “What about us? Excuse me! EXCUSE ME?” It’s that of deep-pocketed Terry Pegula and his Buffalo Sabres. They have more than $12 million to play with, and Pegula loves flexing his financial muscle. The Sabres also happen to have a weak defense corps. It’s no wonder, then, The Buffalo News cites two sources stating the Sabres have offered Franson a two-year contract.

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Get your first look at Jack Eichel in full Sabres gear as rookie signs with Bauer

Jared Clinton
Jack Eichel (via Bauer/Twitter)

Thanks to additions such as Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and coach Dan Bylsma, the anticipation for the new-look Buffalo Sabres is high. But it’s the excitement around potential star Jack Eichel that really has Sabres fans anxiously awaiting puck drop.

Eichel has taken part in scrimmages, development camp and has been around the team for more than a month at this point, but finally fans can get their first look at what the young No. 15 will look like in Sabres blue and gold.

As part of a promotional announcement for Eichel joining the Bauer Hockey roster, the 2015 draft’s second overall selection took part in a photoshoot in which he donned full gear. Here it is, Sabres fans: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is the time right to trade Shea Weber?

Shea Weber (Getty Images)

While the Nashville Predators matched a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet for captain Shea Weber from the Philadelphia Flyers in July 2012, he’s remained the subject of annual off-season trade speculation.

Weber’s value to the Predators and the expense of his contract are usually cited as reasons why he won’t be dealt, but Yahoo Sports’ Josh Cooper believes the time could be right to trade him within the next year. Among the factors justifying this move includes the potential for a strong return, the expense of re-signing Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones next year and the possibility the 29-year-old defenseman’s performance could be about to decline.

Unlike most stars of Weber’s caliber, he lacks a no-trade clause in his contract. The Predators can entertain offers from around the league and ship him anywhere without his consent.
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Dale Hawerchuk made it look easy, but hard work earned him the first big UFA contract

Dale Hawerchuk (Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Twenty years ago this summer, the first crop of elite-level Group III unrestricted free agents went on the open market. The NHL was coming off its first protracted work stoppage, and the 1994-95 season was reduced to 48 games for each of the league’s 26 teams. The new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association granted unconditional free agency for any player 32 or over once his contract expired.

Among the first players to act was future Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk. By that time, ‘Ducky’ was already a veteran of 14 NHL seasons and had 489 goals and 1,314 points. But this was his first real chance to cash in – he signed a $7.5-million deal over three seasons – and his first real opportunity to challenge for a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues were loading up that summer 20 years ago, also signing UFAs Geoff Courtnall, Grant Fuhr and Brian Noonan. But it was Hawerchuk they really wanted, and negotiations with agent Gus Badali took just a few minutes. St. Louis coach-GM Mike Keenan knew he was getting an aging superstar who still had a lot to offer, because Keenan had watched Hawerchuk develop and dominate for the better part of a generation. Read more