Get me this guy!

Patrick Marleau. That’s the guy I want the Sabres to go after this offseason. He’s going to cost you 7-8 million a year, but I think he’s more than worth it. Now, I know some people will think a signing like that would represent a breath of fresh air, while others will scoff at the notion of it.

Well, if you are representing the breath of fresh air, then good for you. If you are taking the company line for the Sabres, well, that’s your opinion. Sorry, but I’m sick of hearing fans gasp whenever a player signs a multi-year contract during free agency and act as if they just got their wife’s credit card bill from Gucci. AHHH!! You spent money on what?!

People, it’s not your money, it’s Tom Golisano’s. More importantly, the Sabres need Marleau’s help. Look, the biggest problem the Sabres have endured over the last three years has been their inability to find a play-making center that the opposition has to game plan for.

They need the type of guy that when the chips are on the table, he is going to say, “F#$k it, I’m winning this game.” The Sabres don’t have that guy. They have tried doing it with the top six forwards for the last three years and it just hasn’t clicked. Now, I do know about Marleau’s short-comings. I know he had the captaincy stripped from him and he has been on a team known to choke once or five times in the playoffs. I get all that. But, he’s a huge upgrade over what Derek Roy and Tim Connolly bring to the table.

Now, if you do look at Marleau’s playoff stats, they don’t seem to be too shabby. Over his last five postseasons, Marleau has averaged almost a point a game and is coming off a very impressive 40-goal campaign. Read my lips, the Sabres DO NOT have a legit number one center. You can shove Tim Connolly’s playoff resume from five years ago down my throat all you want, but I happen to be living in the now with this hockey team. I know what I didn’t see in the playoffs and that were goals by my number 1 and number 2 centers.

I know some of you are going to act like Darcy Regier and tell me about the market and the cap. However, if the Sabres listen to me, it won’t be that hard to fit Marleau’s salary under the cap. Hate to make it sound simple, but all the Sabres have to do is lose Connolly, Stafford and Mair to fit the former captain under their payroll. I don’t give a crap about getting fair value for Connolly and Stafford. If you have to give them away for draft picks and a bag of pucks, then so be it. You would then use the remaining money towards signing Marleau.

I know that some fans will point to Tyler Myers contract being up in two years as a cause for concern about giving a player like Marleau that sort of money. I understand those concerns as I do share them myself. However, that is still two years from now and if the Sabres have learned anything from the Vanek contract fiasco, then they should be writing up Myers’ new contract as we speak.

Now, I do get that some fans will keep on Regiering a thought like this. They will say that a huge contract like that would put the Sabres in the poor house and that Bank of America will go under. You know, the same stuff we heard when Chicago and Philadelphia gave boat loads of money to a number of summer free agents. Which, of course, seems to be working out just fine for both teams. Sorry, but if Marleau stinks, you can always trade him. Scott Gomez made 7 million dollars a year after signing with the Rangers and was god awful. Yet, New York was still able to move him.

Fans have to realize that general managers and coaches have egos the size of hockey rinks. Some coaches/GM’s may feel that they can change the way a player performs by their system and what line they are going to be playing on. Some even keep on re-signing guys just to prove that they were right about trading Michael Peca. In other words, if a player has promise and a large salary, history shows that another team will still take a chance on them. Not every team acts like the Sabres do by looking in the bathroom stalls for loose change. Some teams take chances as they really don’t worry about the money aspect or the market. It’s called winning at all costs.

Bottom line: If this year’s NHL playoffs have taught us one thing, it’s that you need scoring. You need offensive players that the opposition are afraid of. The Sabres need that fear factor and I think Marleau would represent that.
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