'How can a team that looked so good in the regular season look so bad in the playoffs?'
‘The players know there will be changes. Because of the salary cap, that’s the nature of the NHL today. “But hopefully a miracle can be done,” defenseman Brian Campbell said.’
‘The bigger issue is whether Zubrus will return to the Sabres next season. Obtained in a deadline-day trade from the Washington Capitals, he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “Right now I’m a Sabre, and honestly I enjoy it here,” he said.’
‘Also, as these playoffs so clearly demonstrated, the Sabres need more toughness. They require a smacker on the blueline and a power forward who uses his size effectively and regularly, not just at intervals as so many of the bigger Buffalo wingers did during the playoffs. Mike Grier and JP Dumont were noticeable in their absences this spring, and so was Jay McKee.’
‘One way Regier could retain Drury and Briere would be via salary-dumping trades, a possibility that shouldn’t be ruled out. Potential trade bait could be forward Ales Kotalik and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin; both had sub-par seasons and their respective performances didn’t improve during the 2007 playoffs. Kotalik earns $2.33 million per season, Kalinin $2 million, and cutting their salaries would free up over $4 million which could be put toward re-signing Drury and Briere. Promising forward Drew Stafford and defenseman Nathan Paetsch could be affordable replacements for Kotalik and Kalinin.’
‘Both players spoke about their situations with the media today and said they’d like to remain in Buffalo. Drury said he hasn’t talked to his agent about his plans for the offseason yet, but added that he’d love to remain a Sabre and that the team can get better heading into next season. “It’s been a great three years for me and my family, we’ve won a lot of hockey games and I think we can be even better next year,” Drury said.’
‘The top priority, without question in my mind, is to make sure gm Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff are retained. Both are at the end of contracts, but presumably they’re happy here and will be taken care of.’
‘Forget effort as a reason the Sabres lost. It was the special teams, stupid. Fix them, and the Sabres just might win the rubber match between the teams a year from now. Or the Senators might. The teams are that close.’
'"Long before they worry about Briere and Drury, they should sign those two guys. Don't let those guys go on the free market because there are always a half a dozen teams looking to add in one of those two areas," says Neale. "Hopefully for the sake of the Buffalo Sabres they can sign those two guys, but one of those crazy offers could land on one of their laps."'
‘”My first, my probably biggest wish right now would be to be a part of this team,” Briere said. “The Sabres, if they’re interested, they’re going to have the first chance. They’re going to have the best chance. And if that doesn’t work out, then we’ll start looking at different options.”‘
‘Zubrus isn’t sure if he’ll require surgery to repair damaged cartilage. He had an arthroscopic procedure on the same knee in the summer of 2005.’
‘This list takes into account both age and value. In the cathartic interest of sanity, here’s my 2007 NHL All-Unrestricted team (players who at press time are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1)…’
'Drury seems to give the Sabres more of what they ultimately were lacking this postseason — grit, determination, the ability to produce in the clutch. Just look at Game 5. He took a puck to the face in the third period and then returned in overtime after being stitched up. There just weren't enough like him, although the Sabres' future could still be exceptionally bright.'
'“I don’t think we lost the series tonight,” Sabres forward Jason Pominville said. “I think we may have lost it in the first couple games where we weren’t playing the way we were in the last couple.” Indeed, the Sabres played poorly through the first three games. How poorly is a matter of debate. But it’s clear Buffalo didn’t give the effort it takes to win a championship early in the series. With Saturday’s loss, they dropped all three home games. That’s why it really ended when Monday’s wretched performance spoiled Miller’s world-class goaltending.'
'“There’s a lot of disappointment right now, maybe we weren’t quite as good as we needed to be.”'