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What About Next Year?

In all of the excitement involved in the summer of Pegula, many questions have been answered, but there is are more new questions for Sabres’ fans. What about Tyler Myers? What about Tyler Ennis? What the heck are we going to do with this lack of cap space?

These are the things that astute fans are asking. Is this really a problem? Are the Sabres ignoring the future to focus on the present? Could we lose one of the Tylers? Let’s take a look:

Of the 23 players on the current active roster there will be four restricted free agents in need of resigning. These will be the primary problems for the Sabres’ front office. Joining Patrick Kaleta, Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers and Marc-Andre Gragnani will be Drew Schiestel and TJ Brennan, who have the potential to earn raises with a strong season and a late call up.

Tyler Myers is the only one of the these players who earns more that $1 million and his cap hit is only $1.3 million. Sufficed to say that these players will probably not be bargains next year and with Buffalo already $3 million over the cap this season it seems pretty bleak.

Consider too that the Sabres will not, barring a trade, lose any of their top eight most expensive players. Luckily for them, they do lose five contracts worth more that $2 million each. These players are all reasonably expendable as well (unless they put together spectacular seasons). There are also some very cheap prospects wait in the wings to take their jobs. so there is some hope that everything will work out so now for the math.

The Sabres’ will likely try to resign all of the restricted free agents that I listed above. How much is each worth? At this point Tyler Myers will easily command the highest salary. Somewhere in the ballpark of $5.5-7 million is extremely likely. I will operate under an estimated average of $6.5 million.

Tyler Ennis will get the a big raise if his sophomore season is anything like his rookie year. Ennis will get between $2-3 million and I will again estimate $2.5 million. Gragnani could get a huge raise or nothing at all, but assuming he cements his role in the top-6 will likely get just north of $1 million. I will guess $1.5 million.

Kaleta is another player that could get a raise or a release. Assuming he stays he will likely get a similar salary of $1 million. I would also hazard to say that either TJ Brennan or (more likely) Drew Schiestel will have a similar season to Gragnani last year and will be looking at a 1-way $800,000 contract.

All in all you are looking at $11.3 million for five contracts. The difference from last season’s contracts is only $8,667,500. Where will the Sabres get the money to cover that type of need? First off, Tim Kennedy’s $166,667 buyout comes off the book. Then Ales Kotalik and Shaone Morrisonn’s combined $5,025,000 million worth of likely AHL contracts will be free agents walking to other locations.

Next, $7,525,000 million in Brad Boyes and Jochen Hecht will likely be allowed to walk as well. Finally Paul Gaustad’s $2.3 million contract expires and he will either be resigned at a discount or allowed to walk. That leaves more than enough money to cover the spread on the restricted free agents.

That would leave just north of $6 million dollars to spend, but there will still be some roster spots open to fill. Assuming that all of the UFA’s walk away in free agency there will be four roster spots left to fill. In the minor leagues Luke Adam and Zack Kassian are expected to make the team in 2012-13. That adds $1.75 million to the payroll and fills two of those roster spots.

Corey Tropp could potentially fill one of those two remaining spots at a cheap $700,000 cap hit. However even if he isn’t ready you’re still looking at two openings with $4.25 million in space. That give Buffalo some good room to sign some free agents.

This is all obviously subject to the 2011-12 season and speculating now is likely futile. Then why figure all of this out? Firstly, I’m weird and this is fun for me. Secondly, I hope it will put some minds at ease about the summer of 2012. It will all be okay. We still have cap space. The Tylers will be resigned. Breath and enjoy the season, it should be a good one.

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