Sabres Ghosts

I’m shocked the Blues are going to waive defenseman Jay McKee. Mostly, because he was so injured during his time in St. Louis, he usually wasn’t much of a factor for the team. I thought they’d want to get some return on their investment during the last year of his contract. The Blues are capped out, though, and they need McKee’s salary for a backup goalie.

McKee came to the Blues as an unrestricted free agent out of Buffalo. His last season in Buffalo was what many thought represented the Sabres return to NHL glory. They made it to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to Carolina in seven games. The Sabres seemed just a few player tweaks away fro the Stanley Cup.

Of course, rather than keep together their successful core, the Sabres allowed themselves to be dismantled. McKee was one of the first to go from that core. It’s interesting to look at how many from the 2005-06 Sabres lineup haven’t aged very well.

Chris Drury and Danny Briere are each the subject of trade rumors with their respective teams. Neither is a dominant force on their team and neither is playing up to their contract.

Maxim Afinogenov, whom the Sabres decided to retain, has struggled to find a consistent game. Dmitri Kalinin’s game (he eventually left for the Rangers) has completely disintegrated. To the extent that you have to wonder if he’ll be back in the NHL next season.

Of course, not everyone from that 2005-06 Buffalo class has failed. Thomas Vanek was one of the rare players to get an extension out of the Sabres, and he’s played well for them. Defenseman Brian Campbell is doing well for the Blackhawks. And JP Dumont is solid enough for the Predators.

So while there’s no 2005-06 Sabres Curse, it is interesting to see how some of the more high-profile players have struggled apart from each other.

Also, my draft recap is up at RotoRob.