Have Sabres Gone Money Mad?

It always seemed likely Buffalo would splash the cash this summer. New owner Terry Pegula was not shy in expressing his desire to put money in to the team and help bring some glory to the club he loves, and GM Darcy Regier duly went out and made enough splashes in the free agent pool to cause passing lifeguards to shout “stop bombing!”

The sum of the Sabres summer moves see an improved side at the HSBC Arena this season, but for the money being spent I’m not exactly convinced it’s been spent all that well.

I’m absolutely 100% behind Regier getting Tyler Myers tied to a long term deal. I’m a big fan of the Calder Trophy winner and believe he will be the cornerstone of their defence for years to come.

But what about the wider implications of the summer – moving forward, where are the Sabres heading?

They’re $3.5m over the current maximum salary cap with their 23 man roster, so something is going to have to give at some point. But where the change will come it is unclear, especially when it still feels like the team will lean quite heavily on Ryan Miller still despite the summer moves.

What can they afford to give up? And more importantly what comes back the other way?

Looking further ahead the team has 16 players signed for next season, but only $9m to fill out the remainder of the roster – and that will include having to make decisions about the likes of Brad Boyes, who will be a UFA, and top youngster Tyler Ennis as his entry level deal comes to an end.

After that Derek Roy hits free agency, as does Robyn Regehr.

It really does not leave Regier much wiggle room.

Christian Erhoff and Ville Leino were among the top free agents available this summer, and Buffalo landed them both – at a combined $8.5m! Seriously? Both players are in their prime and have talent, but are they that good?

Likewise Drew Staffords $4m extension could prove to be a costly over payment for a player who, whilst being very popular with the fans, has never played a full NHL season and has only broken the 20 goal barrier twice in five seasons.

As I said at the start, I have no doubt the Sabres are a better team. But surely the ultimate goal for any team is to take a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup? And for the money Buffalo are spending (i.e. top dollar!) they need to be in a position to make that run?

Ryan Miller is an elite goaltender, Myers is a high quality young D man whilst the likes of Regehr and Roy add strong skills of their own but the whole thing now feels like a team which have gone a little mad with their new found wealth after years of thrift.

I recently compared the Sabres to a loveable tramp who had been given a $100, and then splurged it all on McDonalds for a week instead of buying a fishing rod to ensure his longer term future.

After keeping the belt tight for several seasons, this sudden opportunity to spend has triggered deals for the sake of deals in a bid to flex the franchise new found financial muscle, but without achieving the ultimate goal of really, truly moving the franchise significantly closer to a Cup.

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on September 19, 2011, in Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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