Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sabres reach terms with Kaleta

While there's been plenty of noise over Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils and the NHL, the Sabres have had their usual quiet summer. They watched Henrik Tallinder depart for Newark and replaced him with Jordan Leopold. While Tallinder's loss might hurt, no one will miss Toni Lydman, who was the weakest link on the Buffalo blueline. The Finn moved to Anaheim where they'll soon discover just how soft he is.

With little happening in Western New York other than one-time Devil Rob Niedermayer becoming Adam Mair's replacement, teflon GM Darcy Regier actually got something done for a change today- re-signing gritty forward Patrick Kaleta. In reaching agreement (2 yrs, $1.815 million) with the 24 year-old pest who established new career bests in goals (10) and points (15) while adding 89 penalty minutes over 55 contests, the club avoided arbitration. A tedious process even the hometown kid wanted to avoid.

"I was never a big fan of arbitration, going in there and pleading cases," a pleased Kaleta told the Canadian Press. "So I'm happy to get it over and done with and not have to worry about it."
For a player selected in the '04 sixth round (176th overall), the former Peterborough OHL product hasn't fared too badly, evolving into a third line energy type that drives opponents nuts. He loves to throw the weight around albeit sometimes after a player releases the puck, wreaking havoc and of course plenty of enemies. One such rival was ex-Ranger Paul Mara, who one night snapped after another borderline hit, getting himself tossed while Kaleta and his Buffalo 'mates got the last laugh on the scoreboard. That's his style. To agitate. He always seems to get the better of the Rangers, victimizing them with his first career two-goal game in a Sabre win at MSG on 12/12/09.

In '09-10, he added offense to his resume improving on a four-goal, five assist '08-09 by hitting double digits in goals for the first time in the NHL. Despite his antics, he's an effective hockey player who should improve. Something that will make Sabre fans happy.

"I had to look at it in a way that the team wanted me to play here next year no matter what," Kaleta added in a piece on the official Buffalo Sabres site. "I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far personally as a hockey player in Buffalo. Hopefully it's only a small portion of what I can do."

Now, if only Regier would open the wallet to further bolster a club that finished atop the Northeast before a disappointing first round ouster at the hands of bitter rival Boston. And by that, we don't mean bringing back Patrick Lalime. As our resident Buffalo lurker might say, don't get your hopes up.

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