The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 06/21/16 at 03:10 PM ET
We're looking at a decent crop of free agents and players on the trading block this offseason, and Buffalo is certainly one of those teams looking to be buyers.
With the Sabres rumored to be willing to plunk down $12M per season for Steven Stamkos (you can take that one or leave it, but it is from Darren Dreger), and with a glaring need to find a top-end defenseman to pair with Rasmus Ristolainen, this might be a good time to take a hard look at how much available credit is on the card.
This is the time of year when many Sabres fans miscalculate what their team is dealing with in regards to the cap. Who can forget those recent past seasons when there was unfounded panic in the streets of Buffalo that the team wouldn't be able to reach the floor?
But times have changed and the rebuild is over. And if Buffalo wants to sign a high end guy like Stamkos, it'll take a lot of work clearing out cap room to make it possible.
Assuming the escalator clause kicks in, it looks like the cap will be at or around $72.8M for 2016-17.
Add up the cap hits for signed players expected to make the team, and you're at $52M. Estimate $12M for signing Ristolainen, Zemgus Girgensons, Jake McCabe and Marcus Foligno, and throw in $2M for the sum of Cody McCormick's contract and Cody Hodgson's buyout still on the books, and you're at $66M.
That would leave the Sabres with just $6.8M left. Granted, this can be higher or lower depending on variables such as performance bonuses, deferred overages and buried cap hits. That $6.8M figure doesn't include a Jimmy Vesey deal.
It's pretty clear that Tim Murray will need to move some salary in order to do at least most of what he wants with this roster.
The cap hits of Matt Moulson ($5M), Brian Gionta ($4.25M) and Josh Gorges ($3.9M) are at varying levels of burdensome for this team. But you'd likely have to say goodbye to a very good young player to entice another team to take on any of those heavy deals.
Trading Tyler Ennis ($4.6M) could be on the table, and he seems to be everyone's favorite to ship out of town, but he's only 26 years old and more than capable of putting up 20+ goals and 50+ points.
If it were me, I'd explore dealing Zach Bogosian ($5.14M), although I know Murray really likes him so it probably won't happen. I'm just not that high on him and would rather see Mark Pysyk in the second defensive pairing. That would get the Sabres to $12M of cap room, and, if that isn't sufficient, they could still try to get lucky enough to unload one of those other bad contracts.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]