NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2019
The latest Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Sabres general manager Jason Botterill must find a way to free up some salary cap room. Following the recent re-signings of Linus Ullmark and Jake McCabe, they’re sitting over $1 million above the $81.5-million salary cap.
One way could be using their second buyout window (which opens today) to shed a contract. Lysowski suggested forward Vladimir Sobotka or defenseman Marco Scandella as possible buyout candidates. Buying out Sobotka would free up $2 million in cap space for the coming season while a Scandella buyout would save over $3.1 million in 2019-20.
Lysowski speculates Botterill is likely trying to free up cap room via the trade market. Sobotka would have little trade value but Scandella or Matt Hunwick ($2.25 million) could draw interest from clubs seeking blueline depth. Moving either guy won’t address their logjam of eight right-side rearguards.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for months and seems the most likely to be moved. The Sabres would want a top-six forward in return and that would offset Ristolainen’s $5.4-million cap hit. Lysowski speculates they could also try to buy time until Zach Bogosian is healthy and then attempt to move him.
THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin reports veteran winger Jason Pominville would prefer returning with the Sabres this season. He’s spent most of his career in Buffalo and is reluctant to move his school-age children.
Botterill hasn’t ruled out bringing back Pominville, who’s an unrestricted free agent. If that isn’t possible, his agent suggested his client might be receptive if the Montreal Canadiens came calling. The Canadiens haven’t really replaced winger Andrew Shaw, who was shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks in late-June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Sobotka buyout makes the most sense to free up cap space. We’ll find out soon if Botterill goes that route.
I still believe Botterill’s acquisition of so many right-side defensemen is in preparation of moving Ristolainen for a top-six forward. He has the most value and would attract plenty of interest in the trade market.
If Botterill is shopping Ristolainen, it could take some time to find the right deal. Perhaps that move comes next month when training camps open and teams begin to assess their rosters.
Botterill could also attempt to move Bogosian when he returns to the lineup. However, his injury history and $5.14-million cap hit could hurt his trade value.
Pominville turns 37 in November but he could still have some value to the Sabres or another club in a checking-line role. He knows he won’t be getting a lucrative multi-year contract. I can see him accepting a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a base salary of around $1.25 million.