A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sabres re-ink Connolly; things getting close

On Friday, the Sabres came to an agreement with Tim Connolly, avoiding his scheduled arbitration hearing of August 1. He signed a three year contract valued at $8.9M. No other details have immediately been made available, but I would assume that his actual salary escalates. Something like $2.5/$2.9/$3.5. As far as the cap is concerned, though, his "salary" for next season will be $2.966M.

This makes my friend Amanda very happy. She's a relocated Sabres fan, and the proud owner of one Tim Connolly home sweater. At least the "home sweater" that they wore for the past few years. For those who ask "Hey DL, why do you talk about the Sabres so much?", she's the main reason. Over the past 10 years or so, I've come to know a dozen or so people who have relocated to central North Carolina from Buffalo, and because of that, I've developed somewhat of a bizarre interest in the Sabres. Not so much the Buffalo Bills, though. Anyway, it's because of her that I care about the Sabres.

According to this guy's site, which provides salary and "cap hit" salary information on all teams, in easy to read format, the Sabres have 16 guys signed, and have spent $34M. They only have a few important pieces of the puzzle remaining. Sure they need to sign 8 or so guys, but only a few of them are key. Dmitri Kalinin is one of those. He isn't scheduled for arbitration, and remains an unsigned RFA. Last season, he had a bevy of injuries, causing him to miss 27 regular season games, but he still managed to amass 18 points (2/16) and a rating of +14. He missed the Sabres final 10 playoff games with a broken ankle. He's a very important part of the Sabres blue line, and will be due for a slight raise over the $1.33 that he made last season. His qualifying sheet had to be for at least $1.4, so let's say he gets $1.5.

Ryan Miller is the other unsigned RFA that simply must be signed. He had a sensational season, and my guess is that he gets $1.75. Tom Luongo, ofSabre Rattling thinks that he'll get more like $2.1, but I see a discounted rate. It'll all depend on the length of his contract. The longer the contract, the more likely that it'll be one of the escalating variety, and the more likely that his cap hit will be something like $2M.

Then, the arbitration filers. There's only a few of those left on the slate. Most notably, JP Dumont and Maxim Afinogenov. Afinogenov earned $1.33M last season, and had a great season, accruing 73 points (22/51) in 77 games, but only 8 (3/5) in 18 playoff games. His points and assists totals were top on the team last season. He'll be due a huge raise. Well above, actually, my initial guess of $2.75M. In light of the $5M Briere award, I'm modifying my guess and saying that Maxi gets $4M.

JP Dumont got $1.596M last season, and scored 40 points (20/20) in only 54 games. He'll be due a raise, and I'll stick with my guess of $2.5.

If Kalinin gets $1.5, Miller gets $2, Afinogenov gets $4 and Dumont gets $2.5, that'll only be 20 guys, and they'll be right at the cap of $44M. They're going to dump Marty Biron and his $2.128. That's a foregone conclusion. Replace him with someone from Rochester, or sign an NHL-ready #2 goalie for about $900K, and they'll still be in a tight spot.

Somebody's gotta go. Afinogenov? Dumont?

All of this is, of course, assuming that the Sabres accept the Briere award. They won't "walk away", but if they sign-n-trade, they'll be in a much better position vis-a-vis the cap. But they'd be losing Danny freaking Briere. I don't see it happening. They'll come up with some other creative way to handle their cap situation.

New Jersey, on the other hand.... They're way over cap right now. The rumor is that Alex Mogilny will get "injured" during training camp. You know... A hockey injury. (wink, wink) One that will require season-ending surgery. The Devils will be "upset" that Mogilny will have to miss the entire season, but his $3.5M salary won't count against the cap. They still, by the way, need a backup goaltender.

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