There is little movement toward getting a deal done, but with the players voting to authorize another disclaimer of interest to keep the NHL honest in its negotiations and the presence of a federal mediator may just usher in an eleventh hour deal to save an NHL season.
Many fans, myself include, have moved on this season, and continue to follow out of blind passion for the love of the sport, caring less what happens to the likes of the NHL. If the league can come out of this and return to the ice faster than the fall of 2013 – the Buffalo Sabres just might benefit like they did out of the last lockout.
One of the biggest positives that could come for the Buffalo Sabres in the current CBA negotiations if they come to light, is the ability to “buyout” two players – without having their salary count against the cap.
Ville Leino could find himself testing free agency once again if the Sabres are able to use the buyout to get themselves under the cap and with the proper roster. Leino has been considered by many to be a bust – brought in to Buffalo just to bring a name in, when it seemed that the city and organization was going to get bypassed by the whale on July 1st. For an organization that doesn’t never liked to cut its losses and deal with their players – this could be a chance to shed a player and get a younger, hungrier kid to prove himself at a much cheaper cap hit – then to have a dead weight player around on the roster. I am not for this – and think Leino can mature into the player we need him to be – he was a stud for the Philadelphia Flyers in the post season, and the Buffalo Sabres need that type of player if they are to be competitive in the post season. The fBuffalo Sabres need for qualified pivot men might keep Leino in the fold.
Drew Stafford could find himself singing the same tune – despite the hot hands towards the end of last season. He is just good enough to want to hang on to, but streaky enough that the team would do better shedding the weight and allowing a rising prospect to eat up the ice time that Stafford normally gets.
Where the Buffalo Sabres could open up more room for the success of the team is on the back end, where a congested blue line is going to give Lindy Ruff fits in a shortened training camp.
Tyler Myers isn’t going anywhere, even though his absence and silence in this whole process despite his role of player rep (he was the alternate, but the Sabres lost Brad Boyes as a player rep when he signed with the New York Islanders) has me questioning his overall dedication to the process. Tells me the kid just wants to play hockey and could care less about the business side of the league though. He might still be a kid, but you have to cut your teeth somewhere.
Robyn Regehr isn’t going anywhere either, and Christian Erhoff will remain on the blue line. With the chemistry that Erhoff and fellow countrymen Alexander Sulzer – if the Buffalo Sabres can bring him back cheap – there’s two of the three defensive pairs.
Mike Weber has put in his dues, and as an RFA – the Buffalo Sabres can still bring him back on the low end of the salary range – and he could have a fair shot at a steady blue line position, instead of being the center piece of the #freeweber campaign. T.J. Brennan is showing strong promise, scratch that – Brennan is playing like he is hell bent on making an NHL roster when things open back up on the big clubs ice. Weber-Brennan would be a good third defensive pair.
Need cap space? Letting Jordan Leopold go skips him to UFA status a half season quicker – this would have been his last season with the team anyways. With amnesty providing immediate relief though, he could be a candidate for early departure.
Andrej Sekera is another player that could find his name on the chopping block. Despite success in the international game – he never translated that success over to the blue and gold. He’s under contract for 2.75 million for three (2.5) seasons.
The seventh defensive spot can be filled by Brayden McNabb or Alex Biega, whoever has the Mike Weber-esque week going on when needed. Mark Pysyk could also learn the pro game as the rotating defenseman in the system if the Buffalo Sabres feel he is NHL ready after his brief stint in the AHL. He is less likely to see the time as the organization still likes to groom prospects that need a year or two in the A.
Not liking buyouts, the Buffalo Sabres, despite needing to shed some salary weight, could be a trade partner in some activity as teams needing to shed some players could look to Buffalo to swap failed or expensive parts. Needing depth at center means the Buffalo Sabres should be players in the upcoming “off season”.