Darcy Regier confirmed earlier reports that the Sabres would be buying out Kennedy’s $1 million arbitrator’s award, giving the young forward a $333,000 buy-out and unrestricted free agency.
It began in May, when the Sabres issued Kennedy a qualifying offer of $605,ooo on a two-way deal (which means Kennedy could be shipped to Portland). In this case, you’d have to assume they were figuring it was Kennedy vs. Ennis for a left wing roster spot, and Buffalo assumed that Ennis would give them more bang for their buck, or that Kennedy would lose that job and need “move-ability.”
This, friendos, is the “new NHL,” and teams are getting used to it. The big worry is that they are missing the bus. The way the Collective Bargaining Agreement works, young players get money faster, which means guys like Clarke MacArthur, Antti Niemi and Kennedy are on a shorter leash with their new club. The temptation here is to lump the Sabres as cheap and vindictive — which I’ll allow — but there isn’t a pretty picture being painted in terms of the new CBA. Why would players want to switch up the system?
I mentioned earlier that a buy-out would not sit well with players like Mike Grier, but is anyone in the NHLPA going to buy the “crying poor” of the owners on mid-level and lower-level guys? For goodness sake, Raffi Torres was bragging at the deadline about signing in Toronto this summer. I’d bet he didn’t know it would be a two-way deal with the Marlies.
That said, there were some screw-ups along the way. I, for one, am no cap genius but I figured Kennedy to be a $1 million player as early as June. I wonder if this isn’t lower-scale Vanek offer sheet. In their projections somewhere in the offices at HSBC Arena, the Sabres were aware that Kennedy and agent Allain Roy could go to arbitration, and I’m not shocked at the ruling. The projected budget endangered the Regier’s ability to sign Kennedy, which goes to those above him.
Blame doesn’t rest free-and-clear of Kennedy, though. He’s been a Sabres fan since he was a kid and understands the team has neither the reputation of being free-spending, nor budging for players. This will be what hurts management and ownership with the media and fans.
Regier is probably right about economics screwing the Sabres, but like Ralph Wilson with revenue sharing, his foresight will end up ringing hollow. He’s done some solid things this summer like signing Rob Niedermayer and saving term and $1.45 million per year by inking Shane Morrisonn and Jordan Leopold over Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder, but I still feel he needs a splash.
Unfortunately, his moves are hitting the water like Greg Louganis.