BUFFALO (LGS) — So much for the question, "Which one do we keep: Briere or Drury?" The Sabres showed why they're the worst organization in the league as far as taking care of players and their free agents. As I've mentioned in the past, if you're an unrestricted free agent (UFA) with the Sabres, chances are you can sell your house, pack your bags and move on to your next destination. The Sabres had roughly six to seven weeks to negotiate with ALL their free agents and they waited until the last week to make offers to their top two stars. There was a time when Darcy Regier was being praised for his adjustments to the new NHL. Now, he should be criticized for his policy regarding negotiating contracts and how the front office approaches its players.
♦ The Rangers seem to be early winners with the signings of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. That could mean Michael Nylander won't be a Blueshirt next season. But if the Rangers do bring Nylander back, they're serious contenders in the Eastern Conference. I think the weakest part of the Rangers last season was their forwards. They had Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Nylander, Martin Straka and Sean Avery. After that though, it was hit and miss. Now they have two bonafide centers and two guys that can contribute big numbers to the team.
♦ Anaheim is reportedly losing Scott Niedermayer to retirement. In his place, they signed Mathieu Schneider away from the Detroit Red Wings. That's a great move. Schneider will play move in and play with Chris Pronger as the top pairing for the Stanley Cup winners.
♦ One of my "prized" free agents was Yanic Perreault. Perreault's numbers are average, but he is a faceoff specialist who has been one of the best on draws for many years. He signed today with the Blackhawks for one year at $1.5 million. Pretty inexpensive for an All-Star.
♦ Why the Sabres didn't make a move on Jason Blake is beyond me. With Briere and Drury gone, you not only lose leadership by scoring as well. Now, the Leafs added much-needed talent around Mats Sundin. Watch out for the Leafs next year. Jason Blake will provide a nice scoring touch and they might've found a number one goalie in Vesa Toskala.
♦ Big Losers: The Sabres. They lost their top two players and have yet to make a signing of their own. Great... just great. The Islanders have also lost two talented players in Blake and Viktor Kozlov. Those were two of their top forwards. That will hurt. The Devils also lost Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski. Those are two of their best players, which doesn't bode well for them. It'll be interesting to see things play themselves out in the Atlantic Division, especially with the additions the Flyers made and the ones that the Rangers made.
♦ One last thing: Something I hate about the other pro leagues is that even with the salary cap, the leagues overprice their players. Don't get me wrong, Briere and Drury are good, but they aren't Jagr or Joe Thornton good. I think you have to question a league that pays an MVP player like Thornton $7.2 million per year and then pays a guy like Drury, who is a great leader but puts up less than a point a game, $7.05 million a year. Thornton led the league in assists last season and was second to Sidney Crosby in points. The new NHL favors the large market teams, which is apparent by the signings made this free agent period.