Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

March 26, 2009

SCHMITT: Tellqvist move sure looks peculiar

The glow has already faded; sorry about the short memory. Not that Wednesday’s stunning Sabres comeback over Florida wasn’t special — it might have been the season’s most wonderfully serendipitous hour. But with plenty of climbing ahead, and Buffalo just one flat effort from falling back off the playoff mountain, there are still too many questionable decisions management needs to be held accountable for.

For example, the idea that the Sabres — a team notorious for hoarding draft choices — would ship a fourth-round pick to the desert for a goalie who got exactly two starts simply doesn’t make sense.

After 13 games on the shelf with a high-ankle sprain, Ryan Miller has officially deemed himself ready to return, and there’s no grace period for the franchise goalie to shake off any rust. The Sabres need to win tonight against Toronto, and they need to keep winning.

And while Miller’s return in a nice story, it relegates Mikael Tellqvist to the press box, with the recently acquired goalie almost certain to be a healthy scratch.

Tellqvist got just one win, and the only way he’ll see more game action is if Miller’s ankle doesn’t hold up. His final line as a Sabre reads like this — those two starts, two mop-up appearances on Patrick Lalime’s rough nights, and a total of 151 minutes.

Miller will obviously return next season, and Lalime also has a year left on his deal. Tellqvist is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, meaning the Sabres would have to trade Lalime and sign him to an extension to keep Tellqvist in a blue and gold uniform.

Highly implausible.

“It doesn’t matter if I haven’t gotten a win here before,” Tellqvist said after Wednesday’s thriller, a good one to remember if it ends up being his only win as a Sabre. “There’s always pressure. And I know those guys both have contracts next year. I just have to get out there and play and not worry about it.”

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