I hate to be the harbinger of bad news.
Especially when things are going oh-so-sublimely for the Buffalo Sabres right now. But, there is a serious issue afoot, and while fans clamor around the Sabres store, the NHL.com store, and Ebay to buy their newest favorite jerseys, it might be wise to take a step back and consider how the Sabres are going to afford all of their upcoming RFA’s after the season comes to a close.
The list contains plenty of popular names:
- Dreeeeew Stafford
- Nate “The Grate” Gerbe
- Andrej Sekera (I need to know what this guy’s pregame meal is.)
- Chris Butler (Still without a goal. Keep shooting, Chris!)
- Mike Weber (The Hero of buffalo74’s side-bar)
- Jhonas Enroth (From the “Land of Enroth.”)
Since blossoming – and not to mention joining the Sabres scoring record books – Stafford is going to be able to name his price. But he won’t have to. One or more GM’s (Kevin Lowe, I am looking at you and your dirty Oilers) are going to try to poach this guy, and Pegula will have to try to meet the offer sheet. That might not be possible – more on that later.
Though not from ornery and lovable South Buffalo, Gerbe has emerged as this season’s Tim Kennedy, and Gerbe is plenty ornery and lovable enough in his own right. He’ll likely earn a qualifying offer from the Sabres.Andrej Sekera has been skating and scoring like Bobby Orr lately, but is history of inconsistency will lower his price tag. That being said, I am of the growing consensus that his recent style of play is indicative of just how good he is going to be. A three year contract, minimally, should be offered to the “Scurrying Slovak.”
Chris Butler hasn’t blossomed like Sekera, and also has an up and down history with the Blue and Gold – but he has also become the partner for Tyler Myers. Say what you want about Butler, but once you find a dependable linemate to help progress Myers’ development, you don’t want to let him go. Expect a one year qualifying offer.
Mike Weber has finally emerged on the scene as the most physical defenseman on the roster. His plus minus ratio is continually near the top of the team, and his outlet passes are smart, and crisp. Lindy Ruff tagged him as one of the few players opposing teams are wary of lining up against. Anything less than a 2 year offer would be heresy.
Jhonas Enroth is the wild card here, since Ryan Miller has his nameplate on the pipe of the Sabres’ net until at least after the 2013-14 season. Still, Enroth has emerged as a more than capable backup for Miller in the stretch run, and without him and his 4 road victories, Buffalo would not be in the top 8 today. Due to his lack of NHL experience, a qualifying offer is to be expected. How long he remains in Buffalo is the question – he is ready to start in this league, and plenty of teams are shopping for a dependable netminder.
The contracts offered these guys will teach us a lot about the direction Pegula’s Sabres are really heading in – what kinds of players they covet, and who they can afford moving forward with an up and coming new core of players.After losing RFA’s Tim Kennedy and Clarke MacArthur last season, it is clear that there is no guarantee that each and every player can and will be retained.
No, not even in the Pegula era. Let’s not forget that the Sabres will need the space to sign Tyler Myers to a long term contract soon – he becomes a RFA after next season. Oh, and Tyler Ennis becomes a RFA at the same time.
Something is going to have to give here, folks.
I am just glad it’s not me in charge of wrangling all these contracts together. There are a lot of popular players at stake here, and the decisions made on this crop of RFA’s will directly impact some of the most important young guns on the roster.
Good luck, Reiger and Co.
Now, I gladly return you back to the playoff race.