Why is it so quiet on the buyout front? Try learning a 600-page document in a few days. GMs, coaches, agents and players are busing studying the new CBA, leaving little time for player movement. What was supposed to be mass frenzy is currently a slow crawl. Sabres' coach Lindy Ruff is hitting the books, according to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News:
"The NHL on Friday announced several rule changes that will send coaches back to their dry-erase boards. Between the start of Sabres training camp Sept. 13 and opening night Oct. 5, Ruff will be adjusting his methods.
"It's a great unknown," Ruff said. "What is going to happen?"
It's anyone's guess until players get on the ice under the new guidelines. Ruff estimated about 20 percent of his system has become outdated.
"I think 80 percent of it will stay the same, but you're taking almost a quarter of what you play and saying, "We gotta adjust this now,' " he said.
"There's going to be homework. I want our coaches to be creative. Let's come up with a whole bunch of ideas, and let's eliminate by trial and error." '
It'll be interesting to see if coaches around the league actually change their game plan. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said he wouldn't change his defensive-minded strategy for New Jersey on MSG last week. However, I bet we'll see many coaches adjusting mid-season, especially with the numerous rule changes. Later in the article, Ruff even said that coaches might have a shootout-only goaltender on the bench. Will coaches push larger, slower players to the bottom of the lineup due to a new, more open format that allows for quickness and speed to flourish?
Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News broke down likely moves from each team. About Buffalo:
"The Sabres could be dumping goalie Martin Biron. They really want to re-sign defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, a player who is in demand. The Sabres want to bolster their defense and goaltending."
A goaltender teeter-totter instead of a carousel in Buffalo? That just wouldn't be as much fun! Really, is Sabres GM Darcy Regier really going to dump Biron after he and Ruff praise him every spring for his "growth and development"? It would be terrific if Regier could bring in a solid, veteran goaltender to share the duty with Mika Noronen or Ryan Miller. I just don't see these kids learning from each other -- their collective mental toughness is softer than Charmin.
But yes, Darcy, get on Zhitnik RIGHT NOW. Defense wins championships -- or at least a trip to the Finals -- every now and then.
Other interesting rumors include many players going to back to their old teams for less money, or moving back to play in their home city. Kulfan rumored that Chris Osgood could return to the Wings, while Curtis Joseph could become a Blue again. Kulfan also said the Oilers could be interested in Doug Weight, while the Stars might pick up Derian Hatcher once the Wings unload his salary. Minnesota might even seek the return of an original North Star, Mike Modano.
CROSBY WATCH: The Associated Press noted ticket-buyers and players flocking to be near the 17-year-old phenom:
"Sidney Crosby has yet to don a Penguins' No. 87 jersey but already the 17-year-phenom has changed everything about hockey in Pittsburgh.
The NHL's worst team when the league last played a regular-season game in 2004, the Penguins can now look upon the playoffs as a realistic goal this season. And ticket sales, which sagged after years of near-capacity crowds in the league's oldest and least fan-friendly arena, picked up substantially minutes after Pittsburgh won the No. 1 pick Friday in the NHL draft lottery.
The Penguins sold scores of season-ticket packages Friday night to fans from 10 states and Canada, even though ticket-buyers had to wait 45 minutes on hold just to get an operator.
Other phones are ringing, too. With hundreds of players about to be dumped on the free agent market Aug. 1, some had their agents call general manager Craig Patrick.
They are eager for the chance to play alongside Lemieux, Crosby and Mark Recchi, in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, to get back to the player-friendly venue which lost stars such as Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Alex Kovalev and Martin Straka not because they wanted to leave, but because the Penguins couldn't afford them.
Thanks to a salary cap that will shrink the gap between the Penguins' payroll and that of the upper-tier teams from $55 million US in 2003-04 to about $10 million in 2005-06, the Penguins can compete again on the open market for top-tier players." '
Gosh, that must be nice.