General Manager Tim Murray of the Buffalo Sabres needed to spend some of owner Terry Pegula’s money to get to the salary cap floor, and wasted little time in poaching a pair of Canadiens in order to help do so. Not long after the NHL Free Agent signing period began today at noon, Murray flipped a 2016 2nd Round pick (Via Minnesota) to Montreal for Habs’ defenseman Josh Gorges. And shortly thereafter then reeled in their captain, Brian Gionta
Not long ago there was speculation that the Sabres might bring in nearby Rochester, New York’s Ryan Callahan. And while that didn’t come to fruition they still ended up with a Rochester guy in Gionta, who’ll receive for three years at just under $13 million from his quasi-hometown team.
Gionta’s name will surely also go right to, or close to, the top of the list of potential new Sabres’ captains. He brings immediate, solid leadership to a young Buffalo squad that has been without a “C” bearer since Steve Ott was traded to the St. Louis Blues in March.
After having made the unexpected move to buy out defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, the Sabres were also lacking veterans on the blue line. They addressed that with Gorges. And while no one is likely to confuse Gorges with Ehrhoff, (especially on the score sheet) the British Columbia native will provide the Blades with a steady veteran presence.
Gorges also reportedly turned down a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs while then accepting a deal to the NHL’s worst team. That move alone has almost certainly made him a fan favorite in western New York already.
The theme of the Sabres day so far seems to be that if you’ve got to spend money on a team that even you don’t expect to win, you might as well spend it on character.