A look ahead at possible offseason moves by the Buffalo Sabres, plus Eric Francis makes the case for the Calgary Flames to sign James Reimer.
Sabres Could Be Busy at the NHL Draft.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently speculated Sabres GM Tim Murray is “set up to make a splash come draft week in June. Which is in Buffalo, of all places. And he knows he darn well better do it.” He believes it will be easier for Murray to make “hockey trades” in June, especially with the value of the Canadian dollar in decline, which could force some playoff clubs to shed salary to become cap compliant this summer. Harrington notes the Sabres have 21 draft picks over the next two years, including four third-rounders in this year’s draft, one of which could become a second rounder. He also speculates Murray could move “midlevel players like Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno or Mark Pysyk,” freeing up more salary-cap room to add veteran talent to speed up the rebuild.
Harrington also recently followed up on Sabres backup goalie Chad Johnson, speculating he could seek a two-year deal via free agency this summer with an eye on being a starter somewhere. The Calgary Flames could be a destination as they’re in dire need of depth between the pipes. He also wonders if Ennis might fetch a quality NHL defenseman via trade this summer. He notes Ennis’ current contract ($4.6 million annual cap hit) was front-loaded and will pay him $3.625 million annually in actual salary over the next three years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray demonstrated his willingness last summer to make bold moves with his acquisition and signing of center Ryan O’Reilly. You better believe he’ll be active in June via the trade market. With over $46.8 million invested in next season’s payroll and an ownership willing to spend to bolster the roster, Murray could also be busy via free agency, especially if he can’t find what he seeks through trades.
Moving Ennis’s contract could be easier said than done, but clubs with blueline depth seeking a scoring winger could consider him a trade option this June. Foligno (a restricted free agent in July) and Pysyk ($1.125 million for 2016-17) should be easier to move, especially as they’ll probably only bring back draft picks to the Sabres. Johnson could be an option for the Flames, but as we’ll see below, there could be a better one available to them via free agency.
Should the Flames Sign James Reimer?
CALGARY SUN: Eric Francis makes the case for the Calgary Flames to sign San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer this summer. The 27-year-old former Maple Leafs goalie claims his asking price isn’t as high as $6 million annually as some reports out of Toronto claimed after he was dealt to the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve also suggested Reimer could be a good fit with the Flames. Though he has an injury history, when healthy he puts up good numbers. Given the lack of depth in quality goalies available via free agency this summer, Reimer could be the Flames’ best bet via free agency to upgrade their depth between the pipes.
Much will depend upon his asking price. The Flames currently have over $48 million invested in 15 players for 2016-17, but a good chunk of their remaining cap space will be eaten up re-signing young RFA stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. If it costs a combined $15 million annually to re-sign those two (and I anticipate it will), the Flames might not have much room (especially if they stick to a lower self-imposed cap ceiling) to accommodate an expensive goalie signing and still leave room for other re-signings and additions if necessary.