How ever will BFLO reach the cap floor? Now that #10 has bid BFLO Auf Weidersehen, whether through his own request or TM's overwhelming desire to rid himself of the Recapture possibility, there is a sinkhole in the roster that needs to be addressed. While I'm sure much of the plan will be revealed in short order, as the UFA period gets fully underway tomorrow, I don't think there is too much to panic about just yet. A few premises to get going:
The Sabres will be awful next year. Perhaps, historically awful. So for those of you thinking that this endeavor is to put a contending team on the ice next year, a team who will legitimately make you want to watch, you're fooling yourself. That was never the plan, quite obviously. You can like it or hate it, but it can't be denied.
The Ehrhoff move will be sold as freeing up cap space and remedying a possibly huge problem down the line when the Sabres will be 'serious contenders'. So this is a forward-thinking and fiscally smart move. Whether it really is or not is immaterial to the selling process.
The cap did not grow as much as previously expected. In fact, it dropped by more than $2m despite the huge Canadian TV deal the League signed. While the ratings for NYR/LAK were approaching record highs, there is reason to be financially cautious.
So while talking to UFAs, BFLO signs their RFAs to judicious, if not slightly overpriced, contracts. Ennis is a bridge, Foligno is short in case the kid doesn't pan out. The other two are insurance.
Ennis: 3 at $4.1m
Foligno: 2 at $1.8m
Ruhwedel: 3 at $980
Conacher: 1 at $1.1m
Now they commit to bringing up Pysyk and Larsson full-time next year.
Next, their own UFAs. While neither are particularly spectacular, they need to get to the floor and the Devil you know etc.
Tallinder: 2 at $3.75m
D'Agostini: 1 at $750
So, rumors as recently as today suggested TM was in talks with Moulson. Yes, he'll have suitors in other places, but most of the rumor mill suggests Calgary, NYI, or BFLO are in front. Given he's close to home in BFLO, and the other two spots are just as bad in terms of competitiveness – not to mention the NYI already dumped him for a shinier, prettier winger – let's say BFLO overpays and brings Matty back. But they'll have to give him term.
Moulson: 5 at $5.6m
Now they move to D. PIT apparently will not be making Orpik an offer. He'll be 34 at the start of the season, and he's a local product. Not exactly any good, and especially dangerous in space (not in a good way), but he's won a Cup and played on Olympic teams. Maybe has a year or two in the tank. So BFLO makes him a deal.
Orpik: 3 at $4.75m.
Now BFLO is already pretty close to the cap floor, maybe slightly over it. But they're not done. Supposedly they've been talking to Steve Ott as well. Sure, some contender might take a run at Otter, and he'd be smart to consider it. But he wasn't anything special in the playoffs. Maybe teams want to go younger, want a bigger player to play the Ott role. BFLO doesn't have that luxury. But they can promise a) he'll be the Captain, and b) both the coach and GM like him, and c) they want him as a long-term fixture in the organization. And, of course, that they'll overpay.
Ott: 4 at $4.25m.
They're well over the cap now. But with McBain getting dumped, they need two more D to finish the job. I thought Mark Fayne would be a good fit, he would play into Nolan's 'system' very well, but he's still young, steady, and relatively inexpensive. There should be a demand for him on the open market. Instead, BFLO targets Nate Prosser from MIN. He's never made more than $900K, he's non-descript, and doesn't do anything particularly well. But he's tough and plays relatively well down low. Plus he's a bit older than Fayne.
Prosser: 2 at $1.5m.
Thanks to another buyout, Tim Gleason is on the market. He's slow, physical, and not especially any good although he does make the simple plays and can be a handful down low. He's a journeyman, which is perfect for this arrangement. But his salary in CAR was $4m. What? So I don't know if he'll go for this. But I'll give it a shot.
Gleason: 2 at $2.25m.
That wraps it up. Glamorous? Hardly. Overpaying for over-the-hill talent and career 2-way contract guys? Yep. Welcome to 2015! But most of the deals are short, and should be off the books when the Reinharts and Ristolainens off the world start looking for that next deal. Tallinder, Gleason, Conacher, Prosser, D'Agostini, and possibly Orpik (a buy-out after Year 2?) could all be off the books by the time these kids start getting their first real League deals. That's $13m of freed space by the 16-17 season. That's not even counting Weber.
Projected Cap #: $58.5m – easily clears the cap floor. See, this IS easy!
So your line-up could look something like this (the sensitive should avert their eyes):
Moulson – Ennis – Stafford
CoHo – Z – Stewart
Larsson – Ott – Foligno
Conacher – Mitchell – D'Ago
Myers – Orpik
Pysyk – Tallinder
Gleason – Weber (yikes!)
Neuvirth – Enroth
And to brighten your day, the possible ROCH line-up:
Porter – Grigo – Armia
Carrier – Varone – Adam
Catenacci – Ellis – DesLauriers
Zigo – Kea – Schaller
Bagnall – Risto
McCabe – McKenzie
Ruhwedel – JGL
Lieuwen – Makarov
And in the pipeline: