Suddenly the Sabres are wheeling and dealing

Darcy Regier made some waves today, more waves than he has made in a 24-hour span in quite some time, in fact.He waived hometown kid Tim Kennedy before signing veteran defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.

Meet Shaone Morrisonn the newest member of the Sabres.

Upon Tim Kennedy arriving to sign his new contract (recently awarded by an arbitrator) he was waived by the team. This move is beyond surprising for a couple of reasons.

The first being Kennedy’s hometown connection and his productive rookie campaign. He only put up 10 goals and 26 points in a primarily checking role. But, he was a steady third-line winger and showed that he was certainly on the upswing in terms of development.

Secondly, he was only due to make $1 million this season. It is rumored that the Sabres were only willing to go to $800,000 and the Kennedy camp was asking just above $1 million. The arbitrator’s decision handcuffed the Sabres because it fell under the league floor of $1.6 million – meaning the Sabres could not walk away from the deal. Now it looks as if the Sabres will buy out the winger for $333,333, one-third of his current deal.

So, just some quick math, the Sabres are going to spend just over $300,000 because they feel Kennedy was awarded $200,000 too much in arbitration? That sounds about right.

I’m frustrated with the ethics of the deal. The Sabres didn’t like the arbitration ruling so they dumped the guy. It makes total sense but at the same time it is only a $200,000 difference in what the Sabres wanted to spend. Now, I’m guessing that the Shaone Morrisonn contract ran the Sabres around $2 or $2.5 million. That should put them in the neighborhood of $54 million against the cap, meaning they still have $5 million to play with (I really wish that would be spent on Bill Guerin).

Anyway, I am pretty sure Kennedy will be bought out. He provides a strong option as a checking line winger, but the idea of a Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Mike Grier checking line is an exciting prospect. Plus, Nathan Gerbe – as much as I dislike his future as an NHLer – has far more offensive upside. So, when you weigh your options, Kennedy was a smart buy out choice. Although, I think Drew Stafford should have been run out-of-town long ago.

On the bright side, the Sabres signed a 6′ 4″ monster to play on the backend this season. No matter how funny Morrisonn spells his name, he plays with some nasty to his game and will make a nice pairing with Tyler Myers. He certainly isn’t going to be a power play quarterback. In addition, he is the ninth Sabres defenseman if you count Mike Weber and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

There isn’t too much to say about the signing. I love it. He is a big, physical guy with plenty of experience. This was a much-needed acquisition.

As for the top-six defensemen this season, it is another story.

I have had it with Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler. They are soft and forget they play defense far too often. Plus, I have seen Gragnani play. I have spoken to scouts about how he defends. The prevailing theme there is that he doesn’t really defend. So, if I’m fielding the team, you can count out those three jokers right away.

Now, that leaves me with Morrisonn, Myers, Steve Montador, Craig Rivet, Jordan Leopold and Mike Weber. My pairings would be Myers and Morrisonn; Rivet and Leopold; Montador and Weber. I would probably keep Butler around as my sixth defenseman and use TJ Brennan as my first call up from Portland. OR, you could scoop from the UFA pool once again. Marc-Andre Bergeron is a scary in his own end but would be an interesting PP guy.

Nevertheless, Regier made the right decision in signing Morrisonn. The Sabres needed an extra left-handed veteran back there. However, I’m not sure how I feel about waiving – and potentially buying out – Tim Kennedy.

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