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Shall We Begin

2017-07-18

The Buffalo Sabres have their guy, signing Eric Staal to a 2 year 9.9 million dollar contract.  Generally considered to be one of the top UFAs available, it is a great grab for a team that didn’t have a ton of cap/cash room to maneuver as of a few weeks ago. 

Reached on vacation, GM Ian Thornton stated, “We took a look at our roster and felt that the missing piece was an improvement of the 1st line.  With Eric being able to play any of the forward positions, it gives us a great number of possible line combinations moving forwards and he was our number 1 target in free agency.”  With emerging young talent in the top 6 forwards, the veteran presence and scoring acumen of a guy like Staal is only going to help.  Thornton added, “He is a consistent producer and when we looked at his season last year, 24 goals and 61 points was a bit of a drop off from the season before, however, we attributed it to the lack of stability.  Playing for 4 separate teams in a season would take its toll on anyone and we are confident in a statistical improvement just by the fact of giving him a home where he is wanted.”

Via an interview at the family homestead in Thunder Bay, Staal quipped “he is pumped for the upcoming season in Buffalo and the chance, for the first time, to play with real stars such as Karlsson, Klingberg and Doughty on the back end.”  He then added, “Last season, playing for four teams, I felt like a man without a face…but now, just being wanted, I cannot wait for winter to come.”  When pressed if he holds a grudge for what happened to him last season, he responded, “I’m from Northern Ontario and we don’t forget.  Fans will see next year and fans will be surprised.  And when they are surprised, they will ask after games ‘what happened here’ and you can tell them that the North remembers and that Staal has come for those teams.”

At the end of the day, there is a lot to be excited about in Buffalo (the team…not the city).  The new GM has approached the off-season with a “win now” attitude as evidenced by the changing of the guard at coach, the shedding of a couple older contracts, this top notch signing and the drafting of talent in the entry draft that can hopefully contribute in the next year or so rather than in 3-4 years.  Thornton finished the interview saying “I hopes to add one or two more character players during the remainder of the free agency period and then I feel our roster will be as formidable as a giant wall.”