For as much time as I have spent this off-season dreaming of a true number one center for the Sabres top line, the folks who run the team have set out with what appears to be a different blueprint in mind. They've loaded up in front of their goaltender. A four year deal with a cap hit of $2.75 million a season for Andrej Sekera is the latest example. With Sekera in the fold, Buffalo now have seven defensemen signed taking up around $18 million in cap space. That number will get a slight bump when Marc-Andre Gragnani signs. This will not set the Sabres apart dramatically as a look at the salary cap situations of the rest of the teams in the league shows.
Almost half the teams in the league spend at least $18 million on defensemen. The number is 14, assuming the Kings get Drew Doughty signed and his cap hit is north of $2.5 million, which of course it will be. Philadelphia leads the way with $23 million on the cap allocated to defensemen for the upcoming season. The Flyers also have made an investment in goal by adding Ilya Bryzgalov, who coupled with back-up Segei Bobrovsky gives the Flyers a whopping $7.4 million cap hit in goal. Add it up and we're talking $30 million on defense and in goal. That far and away is the most any team in the league is spending in their own end.
That is close to where the Sabres will be the season after next. Tyler Myers will be due for a new contract and a hefty raise. Even if you set his cap figure at $6 million, which I would sign up for in a second, his new salary will push the Sabres up over $21 million spent on defensemen. This includes the subtraction of Shaone Morrisonn's $2 million cap hit. Couple that $21 million dollars spent on d-men with Miller's $6.25 plus the back-up's salary and you are going to be at around $28 million spent on goalies and defensemen. That is more than anyone else in the league is spending this year, with the exception of the Flyers. Of course, the development of a kid could make a pricier veteran like Jordan Leopold expendable before we reach this projection in 2012-2013.
The conclusion I would draw from all of this is that the Sabres feel the best way for them to improve as a team is to be better defensively and if they can accomplish that, the offense will come. They were 9th in the league in goals scored last season with a sinkhole at center ice for most of the season. I would still like very much for the Sabres to find a way to make a deal and improve even more down the middle. I'm just thinking more and more that the big moves have been made and this is your team for 2011-2012.
Vanek, Roy, Stafford
Ennis, Leino, Pomminville
Gerbe, Hecht, Boyes
Kaleta, Gaustad, McCormick
Bubble forwards Kotalik, Adam, Kassian, Foligno
Myers, Regehr, Ehrhoff, Leopold, Sekera, Weber
Extra D, Gragnani and Morrisonn. Maybe Gragnani beats out Weber, but it doesn't change much.
They can get under the cap by moving Kotalik and Morrisson to the minors.