July 1st Postmordem

With Darcy coming out and saying that Buffalo is done for the day, I now feel safe to actually talk about what happened today without the fear of missing any new moves.

First off, Buffalo re-signed Cody McCormick to a 3 year, $3.6 million deal ($1.4, $1.2, $1.0). I thought the number would be a bit lower than that, but that’s fine. McCormick has a role on this team as a 4th liner who sticks up for his teammates and he did a damn good job in that role last season. Happy to see him back in the fold.

Next is the big news of the day. The Sabres signed former Flyer, Ville Leino to a 6 yr, $27 million deal ($6.0, $6.0, $4.0, $4.0, $3.5, $3.5).  Some people have complained about the deal, but I don’t really understand why. The cap hit is $4.5 million against a $64.3 million cap, which is only ~7% of the cap that is being used on a versatile, two-way, top-6 forward. Also, take a look at what guys like Erik Cole and Joel Ward got in free agency. This is a good deal for the Sabres.

The intriguing parts of this situation are that the Sabres plan on using him as a center and never met with Richards and his agent. The latter part of that sentence tells me that the Sabres found out that Richards is going to end up getting a crazy contract from someone (probably from Glen “Dan Snyder” Sather) and balked at pursuing him, which is fine. As far as using Leino at center goes, that’s fine. Out of the three forward positions he’s able to play, he prefers playing at center and had a 57.4% faceoff win-rate to go along with a 16.2% shooting percentage to lead the Flyers last season (Those stats are courtesy of @SabresProspects on Twitter). Fans should also note that he has 26 points in 30 playoff games since coming into his own with the Flyers, so the Sabres didn’t exactly grab an unproven playoff commodity.

Right now, the Sabres have five defensemen signed with three RFAs (Sekera, Gragnani, and Weber) and thirteen forwards signed with four UFAs (Connolly, Grier, Niedermayer, and Ellis). It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that Morrisonn and Kotalik won’t be on the roster, but other than that, I think this is pretty close to the lineup you’re going to see.

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR

FORWARDS
Thomas Vanek ($7.142m) / Ville Leino ($4.500m) / Jason Pominville ($5.300m)
Tyler Ennis ($0.875m) / Derek Roy ($4.000m) / Drew Stafford ($4.000m)
Nathan Gerbe ($1.433m) / Jochen Hecht ($3.525m) / Brad Boyes ($4.000m)
Cody McCormick ($1.200m) / Paul Gaustad ($2.300m) / Patrick Kaleta ($0.907m) 

DEFENSEMEN
Robyn Regehr ($4.020m) / Tyler Myers ($1.300m)
Jordan Leopold ($3.000m) / Christian Ehrhoff ($4.000m)
Mike Weber ($0.900m) / Andrej Sekera ($2.500m)
Marc-Andre Gragnani ($0.650m) 

GOALTENDERS
Ryan Miller ($6.250m) / Jhonas Enroth ($1.100m) 

BUYOUTS: Tim Kennedy ($0.166m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,070,357; BONUSES: $425,000
CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $1,229,643

Overall, that forward group has good offensive skill and I’d say the goaltending & defense are in the elite class of the league.

Besides re-signing Sekera, Weber, and Gragnani, the only other things that I would like to see happen is to trade Boyes and shift some of his money towards adding another center in a trade so Hecht can play on the wing because he is a better winger than a center. What I would like to see happen is also something that I don’t consider as something that has to happen. I wouldn’t mind if Hecht ends up being the 3rd line center for this season.

The Sabres get an A+ for this off-season so far. They’ve added two very good defensemen and a versatile top-6 forward with a playoff pedigree and they only had to give up a reasonable amount of cap space, Chris Butler, Paul Byron, Steve Montador, and a 4th round pick to get those pieces.  There should be zero complaints about what has transpired so far this off-season.

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