(Edit: I was just talking to — watch for the falling name — Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News who was out covering the Sabres today and I remarked how we have no idea who Darcy Regier is anymore. Was any of what happened before now his fault? Never has a vitriol bullseye received such a nearly-universal reprieve. It literally feels like we’ve never known a guy who’s worked here for 450 years. Nutso).
With the news today that James van Riemsdyk has inked a six-year, $25.5 million extension with the Flyers, it got me thinking. Is it a “must” that the Sabres sign Tyler Myers to an extension before he becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, 2012?
often never been one to criticize D.J. Regier, but if there’s one thing that’s perplexed me during this spending spree it was giving the salary cap a high-five on the way to Surplus City without addressing the giant man who’s arguably more important to the next 15 years of Sabres hockey than any player in the National Hockey League. In fact, this has a chance to be a Top Five pivotal contract negotiation for the Sabres since Gretzky became a millionaire and starting Crazy Money Doomsday (Hasek, Peca, Drury, Miller are the other four).
When free agency began on July 1, it opened the doors to a new world: one where Sabres GM Darcy Regier could ink Tyler Myers to a contract extension early and give the parties a little bit of mutual benefit. Myers would get a raise before he’s obligated to get one and Regier could snare the World’s Tallest Acrobat at a relative discount.
Sure, money isn’t any of Regier’s concern as long as he’s under the cap thanks to Uncle Terry, but that doesn’t mean anyone’s operating money-drunk at the FN Center. It’s not like they’re building fireplaces in the locker room or anything! Side note: I love fireplaces.
This has me thinking about the new economics of Regier and it leads me to a place where I’m giving the nouveau-riche some credit. Is it possible Regier plans to wait even longer to sign Myers in order to put off the payday, but still benefit the player? It’s a bit of a stretch, but if Regier were to sign Myers to an extension after March 1 he’d be able to ensure the players long-term future earlier than July 1, avoid any offers in restricted free agency and be able to put the cap hurt off until the 2012-13 financial season.
Don’t let the numbers fool you any more than Regier’s words. The GM doesn’t want the league thinking he plans on buying out a player they could sign for nothing, but a “Hockey Heaven” isn’t one where veterans get sent to Rochester to wallow one year after signing a deal (Shaone Morrisonn) or three months after being reacquired in trade (Ales Kotalik). My gut feeling all along is that players will be bought out. I have no deep basis for this, just as I — IMPORTANT — am not a CBA whiz or anything if some of my dates are off-base. Regier can’t answer questions by saying, “Buying out is totally an option. If no one wants to play these guys those sick dollars, I sure ain’t.”
JVR is netting a cap-hit near $4.25 million per-year and Drew Doughty is rejecting a 9-year, $6.5 million-per offer from the Kings (rejected on basis of term, not dollars). JVR wasn’t due to be a restricted free agent until next July 1, like Myers, while Doughty is currently an RFA. Signing early could probably net Myers somewhere in the middle, but once the ballgame gets to March 1 there will likely be no “discounts” versus four more months of waiting.
Regardless of the quandary, the Kings will likely set the market for Regier, who did a bit of it himself with the Christian Ehrhoff deal. Is Tyler Myers going to be getting an Ovechkin or DiPietro-length deal with jacked-up salaries in the first couple years? With the looming chance of another lockout followed by the Wild Wild West in a few years, I’m not sure anything can be certain. I’m just having fun dancing with the details.