BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 20: Nathan Gerbe #42, Mark Mancari #12 and Andrej Sekera #44 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate Gerbe's goal in the second period against Anders Lindback #39 of the Nashville Predators at HSBC Arena on March 20, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
About a year ago now I started my tenure as a writer here at Die By The Blade with a fanpost that was moved to the front page. It was entitled My Offseason Moves. Clever I know. The premise was/is obvious. If I were Darcy Regier, what tweaks would I make to upgrade the roster?
There are three ways in which to build a team in the offseason: trades, free agency (both unrestricted and restricted), and the draft. Last year, I dealt with each of those in one larger post. This year, I'm breaking them down and analyzing each aspect individually. Oh there's one more big difference. Instead of spending Tom Golisano's money, now I'm spending fifteen percent more on the payroll thanks to Terry Pegula.
Though it remains uncertain what that fifteen percent will actually translate to, if I am the GM (and have a $60M cap to work with) these are the following moves that I would make to improve this club. Check out Part Two-Restricted Free Agency after the jump.Restricted Free Agents
Now that Darcy did the heavy lifting in signing Drew Stafford for $16M/4 years (I would have offered $15M/4 years for a cap hit of $3.75M-though I can't really complain about $250K extra a year annually) I can concentrate on Gerbs et. al.
Nathan Gerbe-LW for $3.75M/3 years. Cap hit $1.25M. Perhaps my favorite current Sabre (as you can tell from the nickname above), locking Gerbe up is the biggest priority with respect to the RFAs. He embodies everything that is good about Buffalo-a blue collar work ethic, grit, determination, and an underdog mentality (literally due to his size or lack thereof). He really came on this season (T-9th on the team in points in only 64 games), especially in the second half and playoffs (T-2nd in goals in the postseason). The sky's the limit for this budding star.
Jhonas Enroth-G for $3.15M/3 years. Cap hit $1.05M. Enroth will backup Ryan Miller for a few seasons and will learn the ropes from one of the best in the business. At some point he will mind the crease, but for now this is a fair deal for a current backup, but future starting goaltender.
Chris Butler-D for $2.2M/2 years. Cap hit $1.1M. The Butler became a steady partner for Tyler Myers as the season progressed. He'll never be an offensive force, but he's reliable defensively, notwithstanding his game-tying giveaway to Danny Briere in Game 5. With several D-men on the horizon (McNabb, Pysyk, etc.) coming and a possible UFA signing, this deal allows for future roster flexibility, but is also a fair deal for the Butler.
Andrej Sekera-D for $3M/2 years. Cap hit $1.5M. Sekera may be the juxtaposition of Butler-great on the rush, not as good in his own end. He has improved his defensive game (-1 +/- in 2009-2010 to +11 in 2010-2011) enough to warrant another payday.
Marc-Andre Gragnani-D for $1.75M/2 years. Cap hit $875K. Gragnani may have been with the big club from the beginning of the season had he not been injured in the preseason. He was the Eddie Shore Award winner, given annually to the AHL's best defenseman. Another two-year deal for another offensive minded D-man.
Mark Mancari-RW for $600K/1 year on a two-way contract. Cap hit unsure. Mancari is a reliable injury call up, as his eight points in twenty games this past season will attest. Though there are several RW options in front of him, he adds excellent depth, as he was Portland's leading scorer in both the regular and postseasons.
So there you have it. Yes I realize that there's one player missing from this list, but I will address that in the coming days.
Next Up: Part Three-Unrestricted Free Agents