Grags Gets A New Deal

I didn’t expect the new contract of someone who is likely going to be the team’s 7th defenseman to take as long as it did, but it finally got done yesterday. According to Bill Hoppe, Marc-Andre Gragnani is officially back in the fold after signing his qualifying offer (QO). The QO is just a 10% raise over the previous year’s salary, so since Gragnani made $500,000 last year, he’s due to make $550,000 this year. The deal is for one year and it is two-way, meaning that the Sabres would not be on the hook for Gragnani’s NHL salary if he were to be sent down to Rochester. Gragnani’s also eligible for arbitration next season.

The most interesting part about this deal though is that according to the CBA, Gragnani could potentially become a “Group 6 UFA” after this year.

These players, whose contracts have expired, are age 25 or older, have completed three or more professional seasons, and (i) in the case of a player other than a goaltender, have played less than 80 NHL games (regular-season and playoff), or (ii) in the case of a goaltender, have played less than 28 NHL games (regular-season and playoff).

Based on the CBA, if¬†Gragnani appears in 58 NHL games this season, he is eligible to become a UFA. If Gragnani progresses from last season and the Sabres make a good run in the playoffs like we all think they will this year, he’ll likely easily play 58 games even if he’s only the 7th defenseman because let’s face it. Injuries will happen during the season, not to mention that if Gragnani’s play is just as good or better than a guy like Leopold, the team may be inclined to move the latter guy for help if the team needs it and the cheaper¬†Gragnani would just slip into his spot, thus getting to play in more games.

The flip-side here is his possible regression, but that’s not really that big of a deal for the Sabres either. They could always just use him as a sweetener in a trade later in the year since they’ve got plenty of defensive prospects knocking at the door for a roster spot anyways.

With the roster seemingly in place, all that’s left to do is to trim the fat (aka, Kotalik & Morrisonn) so the Sabres are under the cap before the season starts and with training camp getting ever closer, that should be resolved relatively soon. I’m definitely looking forward to having more to blog about in the coming weeks. I also updated the salary cap charts today with Gragnani’s deal.