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Exploring the Sabres Buyout Options

The Sabres have a few candidates they could use a buyout on this summer to rid themselves of bad contracts

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As the season for the Buffalo Sabres is in its final days. We can start our offseason fun of picking through the Sabres roster and figuring out how the team can improve. Today’s assignment is determining who could be real buyout candidates and if it’s worth the cost.

The Sabres have three players that seem like prime candidates heading into the offseason. They are Zach Bogosian, Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson. A few other lower tier players could be in the discussion, but we’ll save that until the end.

Zach Bogosian

Let’s start with the most complicated of the group in Bogosian. The 27-year-old defenseman has two years remaining on his current contract with a $5.142 million cap hit per season. Bogosian only played in 18 games this season after suffering an injury in training camp and another in practice in early January that resulted in the defender needing hip surgery.

He’s only played 56 percent of the Sabres games the last three seasons (138 of a possible 246). It’s hard to evaluate what kind of player Bogosian can be on a consistent basis because of the injury issues. When he played in the 18 games this season he wasn’t bad in Phil Housley’s system, but is that small sample size enough to determine if he’s a fit moving forward?

If Jason Botterill wanted to get out from under the final two years of the contract via a buyout it would come at a cost. At the time of the buyout period in the middle of June, he’ll have $12 million in salary remaining. A buyout would mean 23 of that ($8 million) will spread out over the next four years. Resulting in the following cap hits:

2018-19: $1,142,857

2019-20: $1,142,857

2020-21: $2,000,000

2021-22: $2,000,000

The actual cost of the buyout in terms of dollars will be $2 million per year over the next four years. Since Bogosian’s cap hit is less than his salary due to the structure of his contract over the next two years the cap hit will fall below the $2 million.

Overall the Sabres would save $4 million on the cap the next two seasons, but owe $2 million on the cap in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The Sabres could explore seeing if a trade is possible in the offseason and eating up to 50 percent of the remaining contract. We’ll see if Botterill can work his magic or if Bogosian will stick around for at least another season.

Jason Pominville

Pominville is another candidate for a buyout, but at this point, I would say it’s unlikely. He’s a fan favorite, a leader in the room and scoring at least 14 goals this season will make Botterill feel comfortable keeping Pominville in a bottom six role next season.

If they do go the buyout route, he has one year remaining at a $5.6 million cap hit. The remaining salary on his contract is only $5 million meaning 23 of that ($3.33 million) will be spread out over the next two seasons resulting in these cap hits:

2018-19: $2,666,667

2019-20: $1,666,667

The Sabres would save $3.33 million next season on the cap but owe $1.66 million the following season. Having the 35-year-old winger stay on the roster one more season seems like the better approach here.

Matt Moulson

Remember old friend Matt Moulson? The guy who was sent away to California early in the season to play for the Ontario Reign, who is the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.

He’s actually doing pretty well for Ontario with 15 goals and 42 points in 43 games in the AHL. Moulson has been a buyout candidate for a few years now, but this offseason may be the year the Sabres pull the trigger.

The 34-year-old winger has a $5 million cap hit next season. You know the drill at this point, 23 of that $2 million salary ($1.33 million) will be spread out over the next two years. That’ll leave the Sabres with the cap hits of the following:

2018-19: $3,666,667

2019-20: $666,667

The Sabres would only save $1.33 million on the cap next season and would owe $667 thousand the following season. Although Moulson is only owed $2 million in salary the Sabres are still on the hook for the cap hit. That is why the cap savings isn’t that big next season. They’ll only pay out $1.33 million total in actual dollars over the next two years, but the cap relief next season won’t be anything great.

Perhaps the Sabres let Moulson hang out another year in Ontario, but I believe they’ll let the veteran be a free agent and decide on his future.

Other Candidates

Two other under the radar players who could be buyout options are Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson. Both have one year remaining on their contracts after this season and the Sabres may want to use their roster spots for other players.

Girgensons is owed $1.6 million next season and if he was to be bought out the Sabres would be stuck with small cap hits over the next two years.

2018-19: $266,667

2019-20: $266,667

They would save $1.33 million on the cap next season, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a trade partner for the former first-round pick if they want to move on.

Larsson carries a $1.475 million cap hit next season but is still owed $1.550 million in salary. The Sabres would be on the hook for 13 of that remaining salary leaving them with two years of low cap hits.

2018-19: $183,000

2019-20: $258,333

Again, like Girgensons the better avenue to move on from the 25-year-old forward would be to explore a trade.

By the way, all of these numbers came from the helpful buyout calculator from our friends at Cap Friendly.

So, what do you think? Should the Sabres consider going down the buyout route in the offseason for one or two of these players?


Who would you like the Sabres to buyout?

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