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Sabres Offseason: Busy or Slow?

It's funny how things work sometimes.  When the season ended, and the Sabres had missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, there was a large public outcry for change.  Things went quiet for about two months and now just over a week before free agency begins that talk is back.

It doesn't matter where you turn it's the same thing.  Whether it be a Fanpost from Roygbiv or the GM for-a-day post from Bucky Gleason the theme is change is necessary.  I was in favor of change as soon as the season ended but then reality set in and I realized there won't be much change in store for the Sabres this off-season.

Darcy Regier met the media yesterday and he basically laid it out of the media in attendance.  He said "There won't be many major moves available"(I'm paraphrasing of course).  He hinted that the team wouldn't be the same, which could mean anything, but said they would tinker instead of blowing it up.  It may not be the popular move but I believe it's the right one.

Since everyone else has tried on their hat as the Sabres GM, I thought it would be fun to give it a try today.  Before I tell you the moves I will make it is important to explain where the franchise is at right now.  The first order of business is the salary cap.  The NHL hasn't finalized it yet but it figures to be in the $54-$55 million range.  That number is unimportant because of the Sabres self-imposed $50 million cap.

The Roster
Vanek $6,400,000 Roy $3,500,000 Pominville $5,000,000
Hecht $3,800,000 Connolly $4,500,000
Paille $1,350,000 Gaustad $2,500,000
Mair $850,000
Rivet $3,500,000 Butler $576,666
Lydman $3,150,000 Tallinder $3,250,000
Paetsch $1,050,000
Miller $6,250,000
Lalime $1,000,000
Forwards $27,825,000
Defense $11,526,666
Goalies $7,250,000
Total $46,601,666
Less $50 million Self-Imposed Cap $3,398,334


Restricted Free Agents:  Clarke MacArthur, Drew Stafford, Patrick Kaleta, Andrej Sekera

Unrestricted Free Agents:  Andrew Peters, Maxim Afinogenov, Dominic Moore, Teppo Numminen, Jaroslav Spacek

In the Minors:  Nathan Gerbe, Tim Kennedy, Tyler Myers, Mark Mancari (RFA)


After looking at the numbers it's easy to see that there will be no chance that the Sabres are a major player in the Free Agent market.  Darcy Regier has never been shy about not liking free agency.  Players are often over-priced and it's something he has always been reluctant to get involved in.  This team was not built on free agency, it was built via the draft and by trade.

The Trading Block

One way the Sabres could free up some salary would be via the trade market.  The Sabres biggest problem will be finding a team that is willing to take the players they are willing to let go.

  • Henrik Tallinder (2009-2010 Salary - $3.25 million)-  Once regarded as the Sabres top defenseman, he can't leave soon enough to appease the fans.  Tallinder will be difficult to trade away because he has not lived up to his  $3.25 million salary.  There may be a team that has plenty of cap room that would be willing to take a flyer on him.
  • Jochen Hecht (2009-2010 salary - $3.8 million) -  Hecht is another player that went from fan favorite to goat in only a short time.  It was just two seasons ago that he had 20 goals for the first time in his career but he fell off considerably with the worst season of his career.  There may be a team that is willing to take a chance on Hecht because he was a very good two-way player before last season.
  • Daniel Paille (2009-2010 salary - $1.35 million) -  Paille is a player that has never fit in with Lindy Ruff.  He scored 19 goals jst two seasons ago but found himself on the the fourth line or in the press box more often than not this season.  Paille is a player that will bring back some value but the money saved wold be marginal.
  • Nathan Paetsch (2009-2010 Salary - $1.05 million) -  Paetsch is another guy that went from bright prospect to the doghouse.  He played extremely well a couple of seasons ago and was thought to be a key a future.  This season he was an eighth defenseman and a sometimes forward.  Like Paille the salary savings would be marginal and it may not be worth trading him away.
  • Toni Lydman (2009-2010 Salary - $3.15 million) -  You know exactly what you are going to get with Lydman.  A very good defenseman that is willing to play physical and block shots.  You just have to keep the puck away from him.  I have never seen a player that has given the puck away more than Lydman has.   I'm leaning towards keeping him but he may have the most value of any of the players I listed.  He would also free up a good amount of salary.  

There are no untouchables on the team, except Ryan Miller and maybe Thomas Vanek, but I think the players I listed are the most likely to be on the block.  The only player that I feel has a realistic chance of getting traded is Toni do I hope I am wrong.

My 2009-2010 Sabres Team

I know already that you are not going to like my team for next season.  Why do I know that?  There isn't much change.  The team remains basically the same with a couple of additions and subtractions.  None of the additions that I am proposing will come from outside the organization.  There just isn't enough money for the Sabres to make too many moves.

  • The first of-season  move is to re-sign Unrestricted Free Agent Jaro Spacek.  He made $3.33 million on his last contract but he might stay for $3 million a season.  All of the other UFA's should be allowed to walk.
  • The second thing to do is re-sign the RFA's.  Drew Stafford ($3 million), Andrej Sekera ($1.5 million), Clarke MacArthur ($1 million), Patrick Kaleta ($700K) and Mark Mancari ($650K).
  • There has to be enough salary to sign these guys so we need to lose a few players.  Toni Lydman is the only player that will bring back any return so he is traded for a third round draft pick.  The Sabres are without a second round pick so this pick will be useful.  It also saves $3.15 million on the salary cap.
  • It's tough to give up on a player after one bad season but at $3.8 million it is too risky to keep Hecht around.  There are no takers on a trade so the Sabres are forced to buy him out.  He will still count for approximately $1.8 million this season.  It will still free up some money.
 The 2009-2010 Roster
Vanek $6,400,000 Roy $3,500,000 Pominville $5,000,000
MacArthur $1,000,000 Connolly $4,500,000 Stafford $3,000,000
Paille $1,350,000 Gaustad $2,500,000 Kaleta $700,000
Gerbe $850,000 Mair $850,000 Mancari $650,000
Kennedy $635,000
Rivet $3,500,000 Butler $576,666
Sekera $1,500,000 Tallinder $3,250,000
Paetsch $1,050,000 Spacek $3,000,000
Weber   $638,800
Miller $6,250,000
Lalime $1,000,000
Buy-Outs $1,800,00
Forwards $30,935,000
Defense $13,515,466
Goalies $7,250,000
Total $51,700,466
Less $50 million Cap ($1,700,466)



I was not able to stay under the $50 million mark with what I would consider to be reasonable changes to the roster.  I'm taking into account the salary that will be paid to Hecht despite the buy-out,

There is a legitimet question as to whether this team will be any better than last years team but it's the best I can do in this market.  The Sabres have over-paid for some of their own free agents and now they are paying for it.

We have seen other fans ideas for the off-season and we have seen what TBN would do...what about you?  What are the changes you will make?