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February 24, 2009 - Matt Spielman
Darcy Regier has been the Buffalo Sabres general manager since 1997.
Lindy Ruff has been the head coach since the same time.
In that 12 years, for the most part, Buffalo has been a defense-first team. For all but the two years coming out of the lockout, Lindy Ruff has preached defense. And yet, for some reason, the Sabres have never had a stud lockdown 30-minute per game defenseman in that time.
That was truly evident Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks. I like the Sabres defensemen as a group, but none of them should be a No. 1 defenseman. They should all be one or two spots lower on the totem pole than they are with Buffalo. Craig Rivet and Jaroslav Spacek would be good as second options. Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman would be a good third pairing. Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler would fit somewhere in the middle nicely. But the Sabres have always lacked their Chris Pronger.
The 15-year veteran is playing 30 minutes per game lately. That means every other shift, Pronger is on the ice. One shift to shut down the opposition's top offensive line and the next shift he can be quarterbacking his own team's top line. No need for two different players to fill his role.
Pronger would be a great addition to the Sabres, but a younger dominant defenseman with a future would be even better.
Brian Campbell played a lot but was much better suited for the Sabres' offensive-minded teams than their usual lockdown defensive teams. Alexei Zhitnik was good defensively but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with his shot from the point.
I'm tired of it. And it's time I come out.
I have a man-crush on Jay Bouwmeester.
Think 12 years ago. Bouwmeester is Chris Pronger.
Six feet, four inches tall.
Huge left-handed shot.
Quarterbacks the power play, clears the front of the net on the penalty kill.
Twelve goals on the blue line. Jaroslav Spacek and Toni Lydman have 13 combined. And that's a stellar year for both guys.
Bouwmeester is a stud.
Ryan Miller is locked up -- this team needs to build a defense around him. Think Butler, Sekera, Weber headlined by Bouwmeester.
Rumor has it Florida is trying to move him before they lose him for nothing in the offseason. Give up some forward depth in the minors and make the trade.
It's time little-old Buffalo has a big-time defenseman.
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Buffalo may have the NHL roster players and draft picks that Florida is looking for in a trade for Jay Bouwmeester.