The Free Agent You Don’t Know You Need

posted by CrotchetyOriginalSam, for reasons which are unlikely to be rehashed anytime soon…

Let’s just get one thing straight, people. There will be no honking as long as I’m running this little show. None. Paul Gaustad may be your little designated pet project around here, and for all I know, he may well spend his off days wearing black and white feather boas and waddling around the house pooping out perfectly cylindrical turds, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to help in saddling a guy with an undeserved reputation for verbalizing in nonsense syllables like a hoarse Gilbert Gottfried.

On to business, and before we even get to anything about Buffalo, you should know that your temporary scribe is in a generally hideous mood today. This is partly because it’s raining in New Hampshire for the ninth day out of the last ten, partly because that little baldheaded twerp Pierre McGuire seems to think that Mats Sundin might end up playing for the Rangers (and, y’know, Pierre’s never wrong about these things, except, like, always), but mostly because the best hockey writer south of the 49th parallel says that Brian Rolston is gearing up to walk away from Minnesota on July 1, after the Wild appeared to throw everything they had into resigning him.

Now, I realize that none of you give a damn about whether the Wild manage to hang onto their most consistent and consistently entertaining scorer, and I further realize that the majority of you are realistic enough to know that, if Minnesota doesn’t have the cash to resign Rolston, there’s no way that the Sabres can possibly cough up enough to satisfy him. But here’s why I bring it up: in the course of ruminating on what Wild GM Doug Risebrough will do to fill out his roster once he’s officially lost Rolston, Pavol Demitra, Aaron Voros, Todd Fedoruk, Petteri Nummelin, and probably a few other ungrateful wretches I’m forgetting about, Russo mentions that Andrew Brunette is a free agent, likely to leave Colorado, and a guy Minnesota would be capable of making a serious run at without the need to drastically overpay in a weak free agent market.

All of which begs the question: why haven’t we been hearing more about Bruno in all the rumor-mongering columns the hockey media’s been generating lately? Am I reading the wrong sites? Is the East Coast sports bias so all-encompassing that the Toronto/New York axis has simply ceased to acknowledge the existence of players in US Mountain Time? Did Andrew Brunette once sleep with Ron McLean’s teenage daughter on a road trip, thus earning him a lifetime ban from all serious speculation on the Canadian nets? (This last one is unlikely, I admit, since a) I have no idea whether Ron has a daughter, and b) I’m pretty sure I saw Bruno on After Hours with Scott and Kelly last year.)

The likely explanation is that Bruno isn’t really considered a marquee player, even in a relatively quiet year for free agency, so he’s falling through the cracks. But seriously: why wouldn’t you want this guy on your team, exactly? He eats minutes for breakfast, he hasn’t missed a single regular season game since 2001 (and I’m pretty sure the one he missed that year was when Jacques Lemaire benched him for no good reason,) he lives to go to the net, he’s a crisp passer, he’s got boatloads of playoff experience, and unless something’s changed drastically since he left Minny, he’s a helluva guy to have around the locker room.

What I’m saying here, Buffalo, is that there’s absolutely no reason that y’all shouldn’t be cramming Darcy’s inbox with passionate missives begging – nay, demanding – that he get off his overly cautious butt come July 1 and tender Mr. Brunette a (reasonably) fat contract offer. After all, your boys lack direction, right? Leadership’s been a bit hard to come by this year? The team could use a steady veteran or two to right the ship and chip in 20-25 goals while he’s at it?

Tell me this isn’t your guy.

10 Responses to “The Free Agent You Don’t Know You Need”


  1. 1 Schnookie June 26, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    All this fancy talk of Brunette hasn’t distracted me from the key point in this post — that Brian Rolston clearly wants to return to New Jersey. I just KNEW naming our cat after him would be good Rolston karma!

    (And I kind of love the thought of Mats going to the Rangers, because he solves exactly zero of their problems. And because it means that Scott Gomez burned every bridge he’d built in the first seven years of his career just to wind up on a hard-trapping team that won’t make personnel decisions that will maximize his top-rate playmaking abilities. Slats is probably muttering around his cigar right now, “What’s that? That Samoan kid’s one of the top pure playmakers in the league? And we don’t have a single decent scoring winger to skate with him? I know! Let’s get Sundin!” The Rangers paid Gomez and Drury a combined $17 million last year, and now they’re chasing after another huge-money center? I LOVE IT!)

  2. 2 Meg June 26, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    The chances of Darcy going after an unrestricted free agent forward for a team that already has more forwards than they need and was one of the highest scoring teams in the league last year is pretty minimal, I’d say. Particularly when said team has a pressing need to improve its defense and the GM has said he’s not particularly interested in going after UFAs. And if he did bring in a forward could really use a) a center and b) a third-line, checking center.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’d be shocked. And rather annoyed because a not-particularly-physical (seriously, he hits less than Tim Connolly), decent offensive forward is really not what the Sabres need.

  3. 3 Jennfer June 26, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    …, you should know that your temporary scribe is in a generally hideous mood today.

    No kidding, you hinted to being in a poor mood in the first paragraph. We like our honking Goose. When’s Kate coming back?

    Just kidding, I’ve enjoyed your posts, but I do miss Kate.

  4. 4 Shari June 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Listen Blobby, Sam, or whatever is your calling yourself, tell us where you buried Kate so we can just get this over with. Gonna have to stick her face on a milk carton pretty soon. “If you see this woman with goggles on, please call 1-800-caboose.”

  5. 5 Patty (in Dallas) June 26, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I’d sign him for the sole reason that he sent Patrick Roy home. For good. (Even though he might have sent us home a year or two later. I forget.)

  6. 6 CrotchetyOriginalSam June 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    The chances of Darcy going after an unrestricted free agent forward for a team that already has more forwards than they need and was one of the highest scoring teams in the league last year is pretty minimal, I’d say. Particularly when said team has a pressing need to improve its defense and the GM has said he’s not particularly interested in going after UFAs.

    1) Everyone needs defense, and there isn’t much quality available.

    2) A good defensive team needs forwards who know how to check as well as score. As I recall, your high-scoring team was severely lacking in this area last season.

    3) No one’s particularly interested in UFAs. They’re too damned expensive and limit your flexibility, since they tend to want long-term deals. But you wind up signing one or two anyway because you don’t have a better way to fill that particular hole. I’m just saying that Bruno fits a hole a lot of teams don’t seem to realize they have.

    But by all means, don’t make a run at him. I want him back in Minny…

  7. 7 Amanda June 26, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Brunette is a very good player, but I agree with Meg – the Sabres need more “good forwards” like large holes in their heads. That being said, Brunette would fit in here nicely. His style would mesh well, I think.

    However, with the number of d-men the Sabres seem to be interested in, I find it highly unlikely that they’ll concentrate much time, effort, or money on signing more good forwards. If they sign a forward, it will be a great forward, IMO. The guy would REALLY have to be worth the money.

    I don’t agree that the Sabres won’t be active this offseason in the UFA market. They may not be as active as some other teams, but I think they’ll make some prudent moves. Now that Darcy is off his draft & prospect glue-sniffing thrill ride, he can concentrate on signing some guys who are actually going to suit up this year for the big boys.

  8. 8 Heather B. June 26, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    2) A good defensive team needs forwards who know how to check as well as score. As I recall, your high-scoring team was severely lacking in this area last season.

    We’re actually okay on defensive forwards. Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville, and Derek Roy are all good to very good two-way players. Sometimes Vanek is too. I’d say he’s a little more of a work in progress. A couple of the youngsters who should be getting more time are pretty good in that regard too.

    Defensively our primary problems last year were well, the defense. And the goaltending. Both were pretty erratic – very good at times and a total disaster at other times.

    That said, I’d gladly take Brunette and lose any combination of Max, Timmy, and Al.

    And I will say this. Those low key guys that none of the fans are really paying attention to are exactly the kind of players Darcy has shown a good eye for in the past. If he decides we need what Brunette can bring to the table, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he’s got an eye on him. All the fans will go apeshit however because they’ve heard of Brooks Orpik and not this other guy.

  9. 9 Meg June 26, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    I don’t think they’ll be totally inactive in the UFA market, but I don’t think they’ll sign a forward and if they surprise me and do I don’t think it’ll be a mid-range, decent forward like Brunette, I think it’ll be a cheaper, grinding sort of guy. I am expecting them to sign a UFA defenseman. Probably a 3rd pairing guy–if they get a top-4 defenseman I expect it to be through trade. In the last 3 years they’ve basically signed 1 UFA a year who wasn’t already on the team (Numminen, Spacek, Pratt) and I would expect that kind of signing to continue to be the trend.

  10. 10 Zach June 27, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I see them going after fellow Avalanche player Liles more than I see them going after Brunette. While Brunette is a great player, Liles is cheaper and will fill more of a need here.


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