With less than a week to go to the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, one of the most common talking points has been how the lack of salary cap space has kept early negotiations to a minimum.
The Sabres head to the deadline with a handful of pending UFAs who will make decent bargain rentals for contending teams. But the real value Buffalo has at the deadline is their salary cap space.
As of this writing, CapFriendly shows the Sabres with over $55 million in space, the most in the NHL by $10 million. CapFriendly projects them to end the year with $13 million in space. That puts the Sabres in a perfect position to leverage that cap space to acquire useful assets at the deadline, something that Kevyn Adams recently said he hopes to do.
Buffalo isn’t the only team with space to broker a deal and the rumor mill doesn’t indicate that Monday will chock full of deals. Taking advantage of their cap space may be easier said than done, but there should be at least a handful of big contracts moving which would allow the Sabres to serve as a broker.
The trade deadline is two weeks away and we spend this week’s episode discussing where Buffalo’s pending UFAs could go and how the Sabres can leverage this year’s deadline into even more draft capital for the club. We also touch on Kevyn Adams’ public statements about the Sabres ability to weaponize their cap space at the deadline.
Also on the show is a quick chat about the returns of Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel and Sunday’s Heritage Classic.
Spring cleaning started in earnest for Kevyn Adams and the Sabres with Friday’s trade of Eric Staal. There’s almost certainly more to come for the four-plus UFAs expected to be shopped ahead of the April 12 deadline.
The Staal move works on a number of levels for the Sabres. The most obvious being the return on an expiring contract and a player who hadn’t performed to expectation this season. Getting a 3rd and 5th round picks for Staal feels appropriate given his play this season, but perhaps slightly underwhelming given the player he’d been for the Wild over the last few seasons.
Buffalo has had some poor results at recent deadlines, particularly in seasons where they had opportunities to sell expiring assets. Tim Murray notably made zero moves in what would be his final deadline and Jason Botterill only made one move at his first deadline; trading Evander Kane to San Jose in a year the Sabres finished dead last.
Botterill’s subsequent deadlines featured a mix of buying and selling, meaning this year might be the first the Sabres sell on a number of players for the first time since 2015. An odd consideration given their results in the interim but the sad reality the organization is facing.
I suppose Jonas Johansson was really the first domino to fall but Staal is one of Buffalo’s three big(ish) tickets for this year’s deadline. Taylor Hall is the big prize while Brandon Montour is rumored to be on the block as well.
In the wake of an extremely quiet trade deadline, we were joined by Joe Yerdon of NHL.com to talk about the moves – or lack there of – that went down on deadline day. Recording at Big Ditch Brewing, we hammer out Tim Murray’s lack of action and the roadmap for the Sabres GM moving forward. Among our other talking points is how expansion may have played a role at the deadline and how the lack of action in-season may trickle down to the pre-expansion deadline.
With the trade deadline less than a week away, Chris and Tyler look over the value of Buffalo’s potential trade chips while also discussing potential additions, as the Sabres aren’t quite buyers but aren’t quite sellers either. Big topics are Cody Franson, Dmitry Kulikov, Anders Nilsson and targeting young defensemen around the league as potential additions.
The roller coaster ride the Sabres have been on this season hit another high point as the team rolled into their bye week. Despite falling to Chicago 5-1 and failing to get much help from the out-of-town scoreboard, the Sabres crawled within two points of a playoff spot on the eve of their bye week.
Sunday’s aftermath pushed the Sabres to a four point deficit, but their current state is a far cry from when they were fighting just to stay out of the Eastern Conference basement. Buffalo’s pre bye-week push has likely created a bit of a pickle for Tim Murray as his club is now far closer to buyer than seller status for next week’s trade deadline.
Buffalo’s narrow margin to the playoffs will erode over the next five days but they won’t be completely out of a playoff spot when they return with a road trip out west. They’ll be close enough to be a threat but just far enough to question if making a run is realistic, thus creating a difficult decision on selling expiring assets, let alone anyone else. Continue reading →
Raise your hand if you didn’t want the Sabres to move on from Evander Kane this past summer. How about at the end of November, shortly after he had returned from breaking his ribs on opening night?
Put your hands down. Liars.
I too thought it was time for Tim Murray to cut bait from his big-ticket acquisition after Kane found himself in hot water for the second time in roughly six months. It seemed like the right choice to make; find a team searching for a bit more offense and see if you couldn’t get a little defensive help coming back the other way.
Now, just a few months later, my tune has changed. Slightly. Kane has scored at a torrid pace since early December, racking up 21 goals in three months’ time, all while going goalless through November – likely a side effect from returning from his broken ribs too early. Kane has now posted back-to-back 20 goal seasons for the Sabres despite missing 17 games last season and another 12 so far this year. He’s had injury issues through most of his career as his style of play isn’t conducive to completing an 82-game slate. However, his goal scoring has been something of a constant despite failing to hit the 70 game mark since 2011-12 (he did play all 48 games of the lockout shortened 2013 season). Continue reading →
Chris and Tyler spend far too much time discussing the fallout from Jack Eichel’s harmless comments following the Sharks victory in addition to hitting on Buffalo’s You Can Play Night and the fast approaching NHL trade deadline. We also focus in on the continued rumors surrounding the Coyotes and Islanders while hitting on a few more trade deadline storylines as Brian Gionta, Dmirty Kulikov and Cody Franson are starting to come up on watch lists.
Two games and five days separate the Sabres from the trade deadline and just about every player on the roster that carries some sort of value has been mentioned in at least one trade rumor over the past few days.
What is known is that Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott are at the top of Tim Murray’s to-trade list. They’re all pending free agents and are expected to fetch a hefty return on the open market. Henrik Tallinder, Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Drew Stafford have each been mentioned along the way and with silly season in full swing it’s important to know your facts.
It’s always good to be fully informed, so make sure you know the contract and cap situations for any team you think the Sabres may be dealing with. You’ll also find additional information on Cap Recapture Penalties and how much salary can be retained by teams. For example, the Sabres can still retain one more contract in a trade. They can retain up to 50% of a deal and it will likely be that of Ryan Miller’s. So, when someone says Miller can’t go somewhere because the team is against the cap, you’ll know that the Sabres can hold onto half of his deal along with taking salary back to help grease the wheels.
Another good source of information is Hockey’s Future. The Sabres are going to be dealing for picks and prospects, check out each team’s prospect pool to figure out who would be names to chase. Elite Prospects and The Hockey News are also good sources of source material.
Lastly, use reputable sources. Otherwise, don’t go to Hockey Buzz. The Fourth Period offers awesome rumor reports and breakdowns and never oversteps their bounds when reporting a rumor. In fact, they were early on the reports that Dan Girardi would be signing and he signed his deal while I was writing this. The Hockey News also has a solid rumor section and even TSN offers a rumor round up, of sorts, on a daily basis.
If you’re scrolling through Twitter, each of the mentioned sites has their own feed and reporters like Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie are always preferable over users with two Rs or two Ys in their name. You can usually count on anonymous sources for little more than barstool fodder and very little real information. Stick to the primary sources and you’ll get solid reports in a timely manner.
This is certainly a working list and I would have much rather written it in more of a survival guide format since that’s much more fun. But, use this as a guide for this year’s deadline and be prepared for at least three more days of rampant speculation before the trades start hitting.
The clock is ticking for Darcy Regier. Not only is he likely working to save his job, he is working towards the expiration of the contracts of Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek.
Each of the player’s deals expire next summer and before he addresses any sort of negotiation Regier will need to decide which ones will be worth keeping around as the Sabres begin to transition to a new core. Of the three I think Ryan Miller is the one who could most use a change of scenery.
Based on his outbursts of frustration earlier in the year and the reality that his play will provide little support to a team that appears destined to wallow near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season, it would appear that Miller has grown exasperated in Buffalo.
You can’t really blame him. Playing behind a lackluster team, Miller has managed to keep his save percentage well above .910 and is still sporting a sub-3.00 GAA. He has actually faced nearly 100 more shots than the next closest goalie in the league which is basically the equivalent of three more games worth of shots on goal. Continue reading →