The following is part two of a two part series on teams finding themselves in a tight spot versus the salary cap. Scroll down (below the post about Frantisek Kaberle) or click this to read part one.
The Buffalo Sabres, who will unveil their new sweaters on September 16 when camp opens, are one of four teams pressing hard against the cap. Going by the numbers provided at the NHL Team Salaries page, the Sabres are actually over the cap. Counting Ryan Miller's cap hit, and Tim Connolly, they have 22 players with a total cap hit of $44.244M. Tim Connolly, though, is having concussion issues and will probably not be ready to start the season. Any time he misses means his cap hit will be pro rata. Other estimations indicate that the Sabres are coming in a few thousand dollars under the cap. Either way, no room to wiggle. They will figure it out, and they will be a good team. However, they will be VERY close to the cap, and that will make Darcy Regier's job that much more difficult. It's still my outsider's opinion that they could free up some room by dealing Martin Biron for a defenseman and a pick. Then they could sign a free agent or call up one of the Rochester Amerks to be the backup to the clear-cut #1 Ryan Miller.
The muckiest situation, though, for the second summer in a row, is that which the New Jersey Devils are in. Including the injured -- defenseman Richard Matvichuk, and center Jason Wiemer -- they are well above the cap, with 21 players and a total cap hit of $45.742. Wiemer is expected to be out for six months after knee surgery. Even if you discount his entire cap hit of $950k, they're still three quarters of a million over the cap. AND they're understaffed. Counting Matvichuk, they have just five defensemen. Matvichuk had back surgery, and may miss some time to recover. Last summer, they also had problems with the cap, but Hepatitis Boy's salary wasn't going against the cap while he recovered. This summer, things are quite different. The cap discount for the injured player is far less significant. They, too, will figure it out. I have no idea how, but they'll find a way. They have to sign players AND free cap space at the same time.
This could be more fun than a soap opera during sweeps week.
5 years ago