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Question/Comment: What back-up goalie should the Sabres try and get ? -- Robert Knapp from Lewiston, NY
|Maxim Afinogenov (Photo: Getty Images) |
KS: I like Stephen Valiquette of the New York Rangers. He was 5-3-3 this past season with two shutouts, a 2.19 GAA and .916 save percentage. He's a big goalie at 6'6" and plays with confidence.
He'll be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. However, I will say that Thibault is a bit intriguing in that he had 2 shutouts last season. He had that horrible outing in LA and that was it for him. If the Sabres coaching staff thinks they could get more consistency out of Thibault, then I wouldn't be opposed to his return.
Question/Comment: Is Brian Campbell stating that no one in the Sabres dressing room ever stepped up and held people accountable? If so, I find that he could just be talking up the Sharks. He played on a team with Chris Drury for a few years. It's hard to believe that Drury never stepped up and spoke out. He's one of the most respected players in the league. I for one, can't believe Campbell has been down talking the Sabres what so ever. He's always been a very respected player in the organization. -- William from Buffalo, NY
KS: As I wrote in my blog, I was surprised to see that quote from Campbell for the very reasons you stated.
However, if he was just trying to talk up the Sharks, he didn't need to put down his former mates as he did.
The quote could have also been taken out of context (which has never happened before, right?), but I doubt that considering the writer, Eric Duhatschek is well respected. However, I do know that some negative comments about Buffalo's management were attributed to Campbell. According to him, those were incorrect as he went out of his way to say that he never made any comments about management here.
Bottom line, it was surprising to see anything negative about Buffalo coming from Campbell, considering all that the franchise and city has done for him.
Question/Comment: I was just wondering, who is a key player to keep on the Sabres during free agency? I know that Darcy Regier said last week that he wants to keep Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller. If the Sabres do sign Jason Pominville, will he make Thomas Vanek money? -- Yasin Gunay from Fairport, NY
KS: Pominville, along with Ryan Miller, has another year left on his contract. The Sabres want to lock both up before their contracts expire and they hit the free agent market.
In the new NHL, a year remaining on a contract is like having none at all. Meaning you have to treat those players like free agents. I think they need to sign both to long-term deals. Pominville is just 25 years old and proved he's a gamer, works hard each night and produces. He won't make Vanek money (few should), but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the neighborhood of Derek Roy.
Other players to keep in mind are Dan Paille, Paul Guastaud, and Steve Bernier. All three are restricted free agents, meaning the Sabres can match any offer. I think all three are part of a bright future hear.
Question/Comment: What is your take on the Sabres possibly trading Max Afinogenov over the summer? Do you think the team would be better served by clearing up cap space or by keeping him and trying to help him perform better? -- David from Lynchburg, VA
KS: There is a dilemma with Max. He's exciting, a fan favorite, has rare speed, and makes some great plays. The problem is, we didn't see enough of it last season.
Injuries, I think, led to some frustration for him, which led to some bad penalties. I wouldn't be opposed to exploring a trade, but what are you going to get for him coming off of the poor season that he had?
I'd much rather see a player with his talent going into the final year of his contract on the team because the odds are he's going to have a good year. Players in the final year of their contracts usually do (ie. Drury, Briere, Campbell). However, the cap space might be more valuable to lock up young players that are RFA's.
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