Cap Shenanigans Hurt Sabres and Kennedy

(WECK 1230) — Tim Kennedy will likely still make more than a million dollars a year when he finds his new hockey team, but he won’t be plying his trade for his boyhood favorites.

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.


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5 Responses to Cap Shenanigans Hurt Sabres and Kennedy

  1. Kennedy is soft. Since when is $1 mil a salary for a 10 goal scorer? Ennis will easily make up the difference. Then you have Gerbe, Kassian, Adam, Gogulla and Schutz with a chance to make the team as well. The defense got tougher and has competition because there are 8 D-men now for 7 spots. If Rivet can’t start the season, we are still ok on defense. Losing TK in not a problem. How it happened might not sit well with fans but it is not even close to a problem.

  2. A few points…

    I guess the frustration that I feel (and think that lots of other fans share), is that while the roster is different now, none of the changes took place in the spots most would agree need it the most. I like the signing of Niedermeyer as much as anyone. But on the things to do list for the summer, how high did “Get (another) veteran 3rd liner for leadership that the highest paid forwards seem incapable to provide” rank? When the playoffs ended, who had a beef with the bottom 2 forward lines? The weak points – absence of performance & leadership from the top 6 forwards, and lack of a true PP quarterback on the blue line, have not been addressed. In what way is this roster better than the one that left the ice in defeat after Game 6 in Boston last April?

    On Kennedy, I have not had the chance to listen to all of the Regier presser. I understand that he was asked if he tried to trade TK before waiving him, and he answered yes. Was it asked for long he tried to move him — has it been only since the abitration ruling came down? Or has he tried to do it since the offseason began? If it’s the former, I can see why he wasn’t successful – no one picked Kennedy up on waivers when the opportunity arose. If it’s the latter, there’s part of me that wants to applaud Darcy for perhaps sensing that it could be dicey getting him and Kaleta signed, while also taking care of what he wanted to get accomplished with the budget he was given (more on that later). On the other hand, if the Sabres were trying to unload Kennedy for a while now, just what exactly were they asking for in return that did not allow them to find a dance partner? When one considers the (relatively) small amount of cash Kennedy was waived over, exactly how high of an asking price could they really have been looking for here? Is it possibly another case of Regier needing too much in return for one of his guys, and the end result is that instead of getting even a late round pick for Kennedy last month before he ever goes to arbitration, instead the Sabres end up PAYING HIM TO NOT PLAY FOR THEM.

    Now, as for being over budget. Again, not having the chance to hear the press conference, when the topic of the club being over budget came up, did anyone ask how bad business is going for them right now? I don’t pretend to know what the financials of the team look like, but I do know that they still have close to 15,000 season ticket holders (and they’re not all in the 300 level, either). The arena store is still hopping on game nights — BTW, we’re all gonna be asked to start buying new shirts in the next month or so at $150 a pop. TV ratings for the games are still pretty strong, especially when compared to other U.S. franchises. So, how much of a hit have they taken in sponsorships or luxury box revenue for the player payroll to fall while the price of tickets went up again (slightly)? Are we starting to see the drumbeat for the next CBA negotiation?

    You just get left with a lot more questions than answers about where this franchise is.

  3. Are you honestly roped into believing this is about money?
    This all took place because of a 300k ,or so, difference?
    But then on the very same day they turn around and sign a Dman who was sitting out in free agency for more than a month after they indicated earlier that they were going with Weber.
    Not to mention that they gave this free agent Dman an increase!

    Wake up!

  4. Daryl, I agree with you. Doesn’t anyone remember the Boston series when little TK was manhandled in the corner which allowed Boston to score a pretty easy goal which ended up being the game winner. I have never like TK he is under sized and his skill doesnt make up for the lack of size. When we had Briere he was very small but he had ridiculous skill and the same goes for Drury. I hope Ennis and Gerbe mack the team they have the potential to be briere or drury type players. The sabres dont need soft forwards like Kennedy. Good riddance i say