Shootout host Kevin Sylvester is a veteran journalist in radio, television and print media. From time to time, Sylvester will be taking time out of his busy schedule to post entries in his blog or answer fans submitted questions.
Is the Rangers' Sean Avery really one of this season's top UFAs? Sylvester thinks so and he'll tell you why (photo: Getty Images)
The Butler Did It:
A bit cheesy of a line, but kudos to defenseman Chris Butler for signing a three-year deal to get his pro career going. It's great timing to get on the right off-season program so he can come into rookie camp and training camp ready to go. I don't expect him to be on the big club in the fall, as he will need time in the AHL, but all indications are this kid has a bright future on the Sabres blue line. Here's hoping the other top college prospects (Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy) agree to deals and get ready too.
Avery a Coveted Free Agent?
The recent controversy and rule change (it's now a penalty to face the goalie as Avery did on Sunday night and wave your stick to distract the netminder) facilitated by Sean Avery of the Rangers had me thinking about his status for next season. He's an unrestricted free agent and is making $1.9 million dollars. As much as it pains me to write this and you to read it, what a bargain.
That's right, Avery is a bargain.
The Rangers are clearly a better team with him than without him. He agitates, draws penalties, and scores goals (he netted a PP goal on the next rush after his stick waving incident). Teams dream about a guy like him, but will they pursue him? Avery is not for everybody. He's been rumored to be a problem child, a "me" guy off the ice, and to a certain extent, on the ice.
Just look at the latest.
He was trying to make a play by distracting Brodeur and help his team score a goal, but he did it questionable way. Ok, it was bush league. Take a look below and you'll even see Chris Drury come over and tell him to keep the stick down.
In essence, he even distracted his teammate.
And that's what makes me wonder how coveted he will be. The grit and determination can't be questioned, but his methods and chemistry with teammates can be.
How much is that worth?
By the way, Avery's line mate, Jaromir Jagr is also headed for free agency July 1st. He needed to reach 84 points this season (only had 71) and win a playoff round to trigger and option year with the Rangers for $8.36 million dollars. Despite down numbers this season, Jagr is still extremely dangerous and talented even at his advanced age of 36. Add Shanahan, Roszival, and quality backup goalie net minder Stephane Valiquette to the free agent market (among others in NY), and you have a lot of decisions this summer for Glen Sather.
Campbell Calling Out Buffalo:
I was surprised to read this quote from former Sabres captain Brian Campbell in the Toronto Globe and Mail on the difference between the Sabres and Sharks.
"The accountability inside the dressing room. It's probably the first team I've been on where guys will speak up and say something and you take it to heart. It's a big change that way, probably the biggest thing." -- Brian Campbell
I can't imagine there wasn't accountability and guys speaking up with the two teams he played on in Buffalo that reached the Eastern Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons.
And as for this past season, wasn't he one of the leaders who's job it was to hold others accountable?
I don't mean to go hard at Brian, but I'm surprised these comments came from a classy guy such as him. I think his former teammates would be surprised too.
The West is Tough:
I was watching the Colorado/Minnesota game last night and was impressed with the Avalanche. They looked dangerous with Sakic, Forsberg, and Statsny up front and Foote and Hannan on the back end.
But I fell asleep too soon. The Wild won in overtime 3-2.
And I can't believe Dallas is up 2-0 on the Ducks. But then again, I can. The first round match-ups of Anaheim vs. Dallas and San Jose vs. Calgary looks more like the Final Four of the West.
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