We have a very complete team in Buffalo, including two great goaltenders. In the past, some great teams have been excellent in the fall, but fallen apart in the spring because of goaltender injuries.
Should the Sabres keep their two goaltenders and lose Martin Biron while getting nothing in return, or trade him and get something while they can? If they should, what do they need? Draft choices, blueline help, or more scoring? It seems like their defense is pretty good, they're having no problems scoring and draft choices are no guarantee of anything.
What do you think?
- Matt Caswell, Western New York
This question came up quite a bit last season, and Sabres GM Darcy Regier showed he would rather have Biron around as injury insurance behind Ryan Miller.
I'd guess Regier won't do the same this season. First of all, Biron will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, meaning Regier can't simply qualify him as he did this year. More importantly, the Sabres also will have to find a way to get Daniel Briere and Chris Drury re-signed. Those two are also UFAs after this season, and it won't be easy to get one, or both, back in the mix. They'll need all the money they can get to keep the forwards, meaning they can't afford the luxury of a backup goalie earning more than $2 million a year.
For that reason alone, I think Regier would ask for a return on Biron that includes (a) young players, and (b) short-term contracts. You're right, draft choices are no guarantee of anything, but if you're a GM who is confident in your development system Â– and the Sabres have a great one Â– you see prospects being just as valuable as bona fide NHLers.
What happened to Adrian Foster, the prospect selected 28th in 2001. He was supposed to be as good as Dany Heatley.
- Daniel LaverdiÃ¨re, Montreal
Foster was a highly-touted prospect when New Jersey drafted him, but even then there were questions about his durability. Groin and abdominal problems hampered him at first, and then a wonky shoulder limited him to 51 games in 2004-05 with the Devils' American League affiliate in Albany.
Last year, post-concussion symptoms resulted in Foster playing only eight games with the River Rats, and he has yet to play an AHL game this season. In other words, it doesn't look good for him. But he isn't the first guy to be betrayed by his body, and he won't be the last.
As a Coyotes season ticket holder, I'm becoming more depressed with each passing day and I sit at the games (in a half-empty arena) thinking, "I spent money for this?"
The off-season moves looked good and, for the most part, appeared to benefit the Coyotes. I was a little concerned about the signings of Jeremy Roenick and Owen Nolan, but those seem to be working out OK. I just can't figure out what the problem is.
I'm wondering if Wayne Gretzky is one of the many superstars who was a magician on the ice as a player, but isn't coaching material. We've seen that in all sports many times. What do you think about Gretzky as coach and how to fix the Coyotes in general? Thanks.
- Jeff Rich, Avondale, Arizona
Much to my current dismay, I was one of Phoenix's biggest off-season boosters. I think the injuries to Steve Reinprecht and Keith Ballard put a serious dent in the Coyotes' chances this year, and they need Curtis Joseph to be much better than he's been so far. Gretzky is the easy target, but I don't know that it's entirely his fault, and there's still time to right the ship.
I'd say the real heat should be on Ulf Samuelsson, the associate coach who handles the blueline, to get Nick Boynton (-5), Dennis Seidenberg (-8), and Derek Morris (-4) playing as they're capable of playing.
How's it goin' Adam? I like your column and The Hockey News rules! As for my questions, well, they are many, and they all have to do with some of my hockey pool selections. Maybe you can help.
1: Jiri Hudler - Is this guy ever gonna get a legitimate shot in Detroit? I'm no Mike Babcock fan, and I know he must clear waivers before being sent down, so what gives with this supposed promising prospect?
2: Petteri Nummelin - He's getting some good ice time with Minnesota, but how much of it is actually power play time?
3: Phil Kessel - Just wondering if they're gonna leave him on one of the top two lines in Boston, and it's not like they have many options anyway, or is he just a handful of bad games away from the AHL?
4: What is going on with Craig Conroy. I never picked him once in my entire life in any of my pools because I thought he could never put up big numbers, so he then goes and proves me wrong these past few years. So I figure this guy looks like the real deal and I pick him, and now he decides to practice his Houdini impression.
What gives with all these guys?
Take care Adam, and keep up the good work!
- Frank Sergi
I thought I had it tough last week when I had three questions from one reader. Here goes:
1. With the Red Wings struggling to score Â– and with rumors of player dissatisfaction with coach Mike Babcock Â– I'd expect Hudler's ice time to increase in the next few games. If he doesn't produce, though, and if Detroit continues to struggle in the standings, Babcock is going to lean heavily on his best players. Right now, at both ends of the rink, Hudler isn't one of them.
2. Like most of the Wild's defensemen, Nummelin is having more success on the penalty kill than the power play. He's second among Wild blueliners in time on ice (21:49), but he may not be playing anywhere for much longer if the back spasms that have plagued him all season get worse.
3. Kessel has been a major disappointment in Boston this year, and not just because I've got him in one of my pools. He's got just two goals so far, and is a minus-2 on a bad Bruins team. Should the Bruins continue to stink, I can see him seeing a lot more AHL ice time in Providence.
4. There's no doubt Conroy is struggling on offense, but his defensive contributions have been much more significant. And on an Kings team that's lost seven of their past 10 games, he could be trade bait sooner than later. The Calgary Flames and ex-linemate Jarome Iginla would be a perfect fit for the affable center.
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