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The veteran presence


Doohickie
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Several people have mentioned that with this rebuild we need to infuse a veteran presence into the team to shield/guild the young core.  Who do we already have?  Here's a list based on what I found on CapFriendly.  The impressions are my own, feel free to add yours, tell me where I'm full of beans, etc.

FORWARDS:

Veterans on contract: 

  • Jeff Skinner (LW)- We're stuck with him.  He generally has a good attitude, high energy, not great with team play but can score goals (last season notwithstanding).  If Granato puts some priority on it, I think he might be able to resurrect Skinner as a goal scorer.
  • Kyle Okposo (RW)-  Character guy; if you don't want to give the C to a young guy, he's a good candidate
  • Zemgus Girgensons (C/LW)- 2 years left on his contract.  He gives a good effort.  There's an outside chance he's our 1C until Cozens/Mitts can step up.
  • Cody Eakin (C)- Eakin has one year left, I say bury him in the AHL somewhere.
  • Tweener:  Victor Olofsson (LW); he's not very experienced at the NHL level but he is 26 which puts him almost in that age group (Girgs is 27).  He might be thought of as a "bridge" between the youth and the vets, not sure.

On the team last year, UFA now, possible re-sign or training camp invitee:

  • Riley Sheahan (C/LW)- Steady, not flashy, doesn't make too many mistakes.  I wouldn't mind another year from him
  • Tobias Rieder (RW/LW)- Solid effort, but hardly a superstar
  • Drake Caggiula (RW/LW)- Trade deadline acquisition, might not be resigned but seems like he had a good attitude/good effort.  Maybe sign him for Rochester and use as a callup?
  • None of those three guys is especially noteworthy, but I think all three play the game "the right way" and could play in DG's system fine.  Not the future but decent stop-gaps for now.

DEFENSE:

Veterans on contract: 

  • Colin Miller (RD)- Signed for one more year.  Used properly maybe he's an okay guy.
  • Robert Hägg (LD)- Also signed for one year.  Age 26.  He played pretty much two full seasons, followed by two partial seasons.  Not sure if that was due to injury or he was just the 7D.  Placeholder until pushed out by younger prospects.

On the team last year, UFA now, possible re-sign or training camp invitee:

  • Matt Irwin (LD)- PLEASE GOD NO.
  • Jake McCabe (LD)- PLEASE GOD YES.  I think McCabe is a high priority to re-sign.  He's got the warrior attitude you want the young D to adopt, especially guys like Samuelsson.

I tend to be less worried about the D because I think Jokiharju and Dahlin, despite their young ages, are coming into their own.  If we have a solid veteran pair of, say, Miller and McCabe (maybe Miller's not the answer here), I think you can give Dahlin/Joki enough protection as they mature.  But I also think we're going to miss Risto more than some would like to admit.

Obviously there could be free agent signings or trades in the off-season; we don't know what the return for Jack will be and if it will be immediately useful, or if Jack will even be traded.  I guess my point is that it isn't like we're totally devoid of veteran presence, especially among the forwards.  There is room, though, for additional acquisitions or prospects ready to break in.

The coming season will no doubt have its challenges, but looking at who we have on contract and how long the contracts are, the Sabres are poised to pivot in a new direction, and may have already taken their first steps in that direction last year under Granato.

Edited by Doohickie
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I think Jack needed a couple of players with the game and attitude to command his respect.  Gionta wasnt enough.  Jack is/was a very headstrong guy IMO.  We didn’t have the right vets in here to get through Jacks head.

Cozen, Mitts, etc do not appear to be cut from the same cloth as Jack.  I’d bet Gio would have made a good mentor for this group.  
 

The one thing missing from the group Doohickie lists is success. We still need to bring in 2-3 vets that are playoff veterans and know what sacrifices are needed so they can show the kids how to get to that next level.

Edited by Weave
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Does not look like Jake will be back 

 

Quote

NHL free agency begins at noon on Wednesday. Adams said he’s still trying to get a deal done with Linus Ullmark, but Jake McCabe is a different story, “We’ve had conversations all along. I’m a big fan of Jake McCabe, but we’re in a spot where he said he’s going to see what’s out there.”

https://www.audacy.com/wgr550/sports/sabres/adams-is-ok-if-eichel-is-still-on-the-team-at-training-camp

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2 hours ago, bob_sauve28 said:

All this tells us is that Jake wants to see what is out there, as he should.

If I were a betting man, I bet he signs with the Sabres, which would be good, IMO.

The priority has to be Linus.  It appears that the spinner of tales, who shall be nameless, is doing just that in regards to a Linus signing.

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6 minutes ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

All this tells us is that Jake wants to see what is out there, as he should.

If I were a betting man, I bet he signs with the Sabres, which would be good, IMO.

The priority has to be Linus.  It appears that the spinner of tales, who shall be nameless, is doing just that in regards to a Linus signing.

We could sure use McCabe. We almost NEED Linus! 

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4 hours ago, nucci said:

The veterans also have to be good players

Absolutely.  They should be good enough to make the roster based on performance and good enough to gain respect.  The second part was most def missing post tank.

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5 hours ago, Weave said:

I think Jack needed a couple of players with the game and attitude to command his respect.  Gionta wasnt enough.  Jack is/was a very headstrong guy IMO.  We didn’t have the right vets in here to get through Jacks head.

Maybe Robin Lehner's comments about players needing to respect Gionta was a shot at Jack and Sam.  As he said at the time, Gionta has a ring; who else could claim that?

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Just now, Marvin, Sabres Fan said:

Maybe Robin Lehner's comments about players needing to respect Gionta was a shot at Jack and Sam.  As he said at the time, Gionta has a ring; who else could claim that?

That was how I took it back then, and said so in this forum.  I’ve refrained from calling him a cancer or bad character guy because there is no real evidence of it, but my gut tells me Jack isn’t the right leader for this team, and never was.  Maybe someday in the future he had his epiphany and becomes a leader.  He probably needs to be in a locker room where he’s not the default alpha male to experience that epiphany.

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5 hours ago, Weave said:

The one thing missing from the group Doohickie lists is success. We still need to bring in 2-3 vets that are playoff veterans and know what sacrifices are needed so they can show the kids how to get to that next level.

Well my list is based on people who played on the team last year, so...

I agree though, one thing they will want is some players with, if not Cup winning experience, at least playoff experience.  One of they guys they got for Rebuild 1.0 that I thought was excellent was David Legwand.  He was a foundational player of the Preds for years, but in his final year in the league, Jack and Sam's rookie year, he played more of a glue guy role:  defensive forward, responsible, killed penalties, etc., and was content in that supporting role.  He didn't "box the young guys out" of higher profile minutes.

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Just now, Weave said:

That was how I took it back then, and said so in this forum.  I’ve refrained from calling him a cancer or bad character guy because there is no real evidence of it, but my gut tells me Jack isn’t the right leader for this team, and never was.  Maybe someday in the future he had his epiphany and becomes a leader.  He probably needs to be in a locker room where he’s not the default alpha male to experience that epiphany.

To be honest I think its a tad more indirect in that it was targeted at Kane and by proxy Eichel (Reinhart to a lesser degree) We know for a fact that Kane was a rebel against team leadership in WPG and was likely, at least to start, in Buffalo. Eichel gravitated to Kane which lends credence to the idea Eichel may have been not as receptive to Gionta. 

2 minutes ago, Doohickie said:

Well my list is based on people who played on the team last year, so...

I agree though, one thing they will want is some players with, if not Cup winning experience, at least playoff experience.  One of they guys they got for Rebuild 1.0 that I thought was excellent was David Legwand.  He was a foundational player of the Preds for years, but in his final year in the league, Jack and Sam's rookie year, he played more of a glue guy role:  defensive forward, responsible, killed penalties, etc., and was content in that supporting role.  He didn't "box the young guys out" of higher profile minutes.

Legwand was a diamond that came out of that Lehner trade no one expected.

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2 minutes ago, thewookie1 said:

You either need high performance vets, Cup Winning vets, or vets that everyone loves.

Okposo falls into the last category since he appears to be universally liked.

Fully agree, which is why I mentioned him as a possible captain.  I think until Mitts or Cozens or Dahlin or Power or whoever clearly warrants the C, it should probably stay with a vet like Okie or McCabe (if we re-sign him).

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Just now, Doohickie said:

Fully agree, which is why I mentioned him as a possible captain.  I think until Mitts or Cozens or Dahlin or Power or whoever clearly warrants the C, it should probably stay with a vet like Okie or McCabe (if we re-sign him).

Let the ducklings follow Okposo around 🙂

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Let's Go B-Lo said:

But does it though? Cody Eakin is still a Sabre and was signed by this regime.

No, not this regime.  He was signed by Adams-Krueger, and I think Krueger had much more influence on KA who was just hired to the job.  The mistake there was having to sign him in the first place, after failing to re-sign Larsson.  But maybe Larsson was the vanguard of guys who just wanted out and wasn't going to sign here for any amount of money.

Edited by Doohickie
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28 minutes ago, Doohickie said:

Well my list is based on people who played on the team last year, so...

I agree though, one thing they will want is some players with, if not Cup winning experience, at least playoff experience.  One of they guys they got for Rebuild 1.0 that I thought was excellent was David Legwand.  He was a foundational player of the Preds for years, but in his final year in the league, Jack and Sam's rookie year, he played more of a glue guy role:  defensive forward, responsible, killed penalties, etc., and was content in that supporting role.  He didn't "box the young guys out" of higher profile minutes.

Yeah, I know it was a list of what’s currently available.  The criticism of that list isn’t a criticism of you.  It is what it is.  I really hope the team recognizes the deficiencies this time and corrects them before another core is wasted.

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IMO the "veteran leadership" mantra is an outdated concept in todays NHL.

Did Brian Gionta or Josh Gorges help?   

IMO if you have the right coach and players with the right character, you don't need a veteran presence.

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3 minutes ago, pi2000 said:

IMO the "veteran leadership" mantra is an outdated concept in todays NHL.

Did Brian Gionta or Josh Gorges help?   

IMO if you have the right coach and players with the right character, you don't need a veteran presence.

I think the truth is somewhere in between.

Among the forward ranks, I would say about half (six players) fall into the "young core".  You need to fill out the remainder with something.  The defense is younger overall but having a couple of grizzled vets on the blue line is probably a good idea.

If the trade return from Jack is a bunch of nearly-mature pospects then yeah you don't need the veteran presence as much but no team is going to give us that much of their future.

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5 minutes ago, pi2000 said:

IMO the "veteran leadership" mantra is an outdated concept in todays NHL.

Did Brian Gionta or Josh Gorges help?   

IMO if you have the right coach and players with the right character, you don't need a veteran presence.

Josh Gorges played the game "the right way" he was just burned out when he got here. Still ate a lot of pucks for the Sabres. 

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I'm all for veteran presence. The question is...

 Can they get the right guys to buy in and understand that winning is the goal but might not happen consistently right away? Can they commit to playing the game the right way and guiding the young core on and off the ice?

Maybe they can get a little extra for babysitting? 

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10 minutes ago, Norcal said:

Josh Gorges played the game "the right way" he was just burned out when he got here. Still ate a lot of pucks for the Sabres. 

IMO the team was worse because of them.   Their net contribution was negative.

Kinda like Staal, Okposo... etc. Washed up but still hanging around to "teach the young core".   Not necessary, especially when they're not helping you win.

Edited by pi2000
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