With the Draft behind us, we can now update our depth chart. It’s paramount to start off by breaking down the cap number going into 2012-2013, and from there projecting what area’s that still ail the Sabres, and what should be considered going forward.
Numbers are courtesy of www.capgeek.com
Vanek $7.1 M Hodgson $1.7 M Pominville $5.3 M Myers $5.5 M McNabb 900 K
Foligno $900 K Ennis RFA Stafford $4.0 M Regehr $4.0 M Sekera $2.8 M
Leino $4.5 M Grigorenko Draftee Kaleta RFA Ehrhoff $4.0 M Leopold $3.0 M
Gerbe $1.5 M Roy $4.0 M Tropp 700 K Sulzer 725 k Weber 950 k
Restricted: Ennis, Kaleta, Brennan, Persson, Szczechura, Biega, Schiestel
Unrestricted: Hecht, Boyes, Kotalik, Morrisonn, MacIntyre, Whitmore, Turnbull, Leggio, Stuart, Ryan
Cap Room: $70.3M (proj. cap) – $59.1 (above cap hit) = $11.2 Million Dollars in cap space
In starting off, the Sabres WILL re-sign restricted free agents Patrick Kaleta and Tyler Ennis. Because I am not the general manager of the Sabres, it makes it difficult to project what there cap hits will equate to next year. I can say this though, they will both make the team, and whatever their average salary is, it will count against the cap (salaries of players in the minors don’t count against the cap). Team’s like to use the contract’s of players of equal value, as a benchmark to determine the value that the particular player they are trying to sign should command. If I was to compare Ottawa C, Kyle Turris, to Buffalo C, Tyler Ennis, I would set the benchmark at $1.4M. As for Patrick Kaleta, whom reminds me a lot of a player on the Vancouver Canucks by the name of Max Lapierre, I would dish out a $1.0 Million contract.
On a similar note, I strongly believe, that Buffalo first-round draft pick Mikhail Grigorenko will make the team out of training camp, and would look great on a line with Ville Leino. His size, offensive talent, and maturity are exactly what Buffalo needs up front, and he makes Buffalo a much scarier team down the middle. Look for him to pick up an Entry Level deal for somewhere in the ball park of $1.0M.
With another $3.4 M off the books, that brings us down to $7.8 Million in remainder for free agency. Darcy has made public that he will sign neither Brad Boyes, nor Jochen Hecht, and none of the other free agents above will make the starting roster next year, and are therefore irrelevant in this conversation.
Sabres general manager, Darcy Regier also made it clear last week that he has no interest in being as close to the the cap as he was last season. That being taken into account, the Sabres have about $6.0M to spend in free agency, assuming $70.3M, as www.capgeek.com projects, will be the salary cap for next season.
The Buffalo Sabres, with so much success in the Draft landing two of the top centres in the first round in Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, are now set at that position in the present and for the future. This makes Derek Roy expendable. With Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, and Mikhail Grigorenko up front, the Sabres have arguably one of the top 1-2-3 punches down the middle. Plus, there is no sense having Derek Roy as a fourth-line player with a $4.0M cap hit (See: Boyes, Brad). The Sabres almost certainly will use Derek Roy as a bargaining chip to acquire an asset on the wing such as Bobby Ryan.
The Sabres also have an abundance of depth on defense, making players like Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, TJ Brennan, and even Brayden McNabb expendable. The Sabres need to consider that D-men such as Mark Pysyk, and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc should be top players for this Sabres team within the next year or so, and will need to make room for them.
Using their depth at centre and on defense, I believe there will be a good chance of the Sabres’ packaging up a group of players, such as the ones I’ve mentioned, for a winger that could improve the teams’ offense immediately. There are lots of great wingers out there, such as Bobby Ryan, Jarome Iginla, among many others.
Assuming a blockbuster trade comes to fruition, that will likely cost the Sabres a Derek Roy, and one of there top-8 D-men. There $6.0M to spend under the cap will stay the same, give or take 1 Million. Using that $6.o Million during free agency to land a quality forward such Zach Parise or Alex Semin, would put the Sabres over the top, and make them a Stanley Cup contender.
If I were a betting man, I would bet a lot of money on these speculated moves becoming a reality on or before July 1, as trade talks start to heat up again in the next week or so.
Tweet me @jords82, I’d love to discuss comments about this article or the Sabres in general any time. Thanks for reading!