What Might Tyler Myers’ Extension Mean To Next Season’s Team?
The Big Easy earned himself a big contract extension this summer, signing a new deal worth $38.5M over 7 years that begins in 2012. With only the most butthurt of hockey fans are screaming bloody murder over Myers carrying a $5.5M cap hit, the deal could be grand larceny in a couple of seasons if his potential pans out. The obvious upside to this deal is that the Sabres have Myers, the 2010 Calder Trophy winner, locked up at a reasonable rate until 2019. The downside is that the team already has over $55M committed to the roster going into the 2012-2013 season. Money could get tight, especially with the other Tyler – Tyler Ennis – in need of an extension next summer as well. It goes without saying that job security may not be so high for a few guys on the roster.
Hit the jump for the numbers and speculation on who, if anyone, could hit the bricks.
After the 2011-2012 season ends, the contracts of Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Ales Kotalik, and Shaone Morrisonn (all UFAs-to-be) all expire. Patrick Kaleta and Tyler Ennis both his RFA status as well. It is almost certain that Kotalik will not be retained and that Matt Ellis, on an unconventional two-way-then-one-way deal, will remain in Rochester. That leaves the team with 5 forward slots to fill. On defense, Morrisonn likely finds himself in the same camp as Kotalik, leaving the team with seven defensemen under contract (Myers, Regehr, Ehrhoff, Leopold, Sekera, Weber, Gragnani). Both netminder spots have been filled at least through the 2013 off-season, so no regard needs to be paid to those positions.
If the salary cap remains static, which is unlikely, the Sabres will have $9M to spend on filling 5 forward slots and leaving some money left over to maintain a little wiggle room. Tyler Ennis’ extension could cost them upwards of $2.5M per season, depending on his sophomore campaign. That leaves them with a possible $6.5M to spend on 4 forwards with wiggle room. Given the players under contract for 2012-2013 (including a possible Ennis extension), they have 6 top-six forwards (Vanek, Roy, Pominville, Stafford, Leino, Ennis), a third liner (Gerbe), and a fourth liner (McCormick). As previously stated, the defense and goaltending are presumably set.
Regier likes to keep a few million in cap space to handle injuries or added payroll at the trade deadline, so for all intents and purposes, the Sabres are looking at spending $3.5M on four forwards to round out the roster. They could easily just call up their entire big top line from Rochester (Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam, and Zack Kassian) to fill three of those roles and sign a scrub at league minimum to fill the bench. Or maybe, they trade a guy away to make room if there’s someone ready to step up to take his spot.
Enter Jordan Leopold and Jason Pominville.
Jordan Leopold seems the likeliest piece to get shipped off if the Sabres feel the crunch in a year. He makes a reasonable wage for his production ($3M), but he has a replacement in the system making 1/6 of that. Marc-Andre Gragnani could step in and, with minimal growing pains, give the Sabres an extra $2.45M in cap space if they so chose to move Leopold.
Jason Pominville might provide more cap relief than Leopold ($2.3M more than the blueliner), but moving him is also trickier. The Sabres don’t have a winger in place to take his spot in all three situations who can produce consistently, and on top of that he also has an NMC/modified NTC going for him.
If the Sabres find themselves in dire straits going into 2012, they can always send Pominville off to a team NOT on his 8 team off-limits list and find themselves with $5.3M more space, or they can try and trade Leopold to wherever they want and get $3M. Of course, this entire post could be rendered moot by the salary cap climbing again. If that happens, we can always revisit the issue then. But for right now, just like at the moment, the Sabres find themselves with a possible headache to deal with.