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Let The Signings Begin
July 1, 2009 - Matt Spielman
Not unexepectedly, the Buffalo Sabres didn't make much noise on the opening day of NHL free agency Wednesday.
Knowing that Jaroslav Spacek probably wasn't going to accept the team's offer, Darcy Regier went out and signed rugged defenseman Steve Montador to a two-year $3.1 million deal. Montador is a nice addition, but not a player who is going to change the balance of power in the Eastern Conference or Northeast Division for that matter.
I am of the view that Buffalo doesn't need to make huge changes to get back into the playoffs and contend, but after seeing what other teams in the division did Wednesday, the Sabres' postseason hopes may be no better today than they were yesterday.
Ottawa was quiet on the free agent front, with its only signing being that of Chris Neil, who was rumored to be leaving the team late into the afternoon. But the Senators did make some noise by a move that has yet to be made -- trading Dany Heatley. Reports had the high-scoring winger going to Edmonton before he apparently vetoed that move with a no-movement clause. If Ottawa finds a way to make Heatley want to play, they will probably be better off.
Toronto, in its first offseason under new general manager Brian Burke got tougher with a trade of Pavel Kubina for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart. The Maple Leafs also signed Colton Orr and then made a bigger splash, signing Mike Komisarek away from the Canadiens.
Montreal, which will have a very different roster this fall, followed up a trade for Scott Gomez by signing Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill on the blueline. Later in the day, Montreal jumped on Mike Cammalleri to the tune of five years and $30 million. Cammalleri is a player I would have loved the Sabres to sign and should make the Canadiens better. Montreal still has money to spend so watch out in the coming days.
Boston re-signed many of its players and brought in one-time Sabre Steve Begin on Wednesday evening, but with a President's Trophy in the bag, the Bruins probably didn't need ot make many big moves.
Players are still available for the Sabres to add, who would absolutely make their team better and Darcy Regier has shown that he has patience to wait for asking prices to come down later in the summer. Look for Buffalo to add a forward or two in the coming days, just don't expect it to be Martin Havlat or Alexei Kovalev. It will more likely be somebody like Bates Battaglia, Boyd Devereaux or fan favorite Mike Grier.
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