With no plans to go on a free agency spending spree next month, Buffalo Sabers general manager Kevyn Adams helped his club get closer to the salary cap on Friday by acquiring an injured player.
The Sabers traded Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, who announced in December that his playing career was over with a knee injury.
For agreeing to Bishop’s contract, which remains for one year and has $4.916 million over the salary cap, the Sabers also added a 2022 seventh-round draft pick from Dallas in exchange for “future considerations.” Bishop, 35, owes $3.5 million in salary, 40% of which will have to be paid by Buffalo if the contract is secured, according to CapFriendly.com.
The Stars had Bishop on the long-term injured list this season, but they probably wanted to free up that spot in case they needed to add another player to the roster next season.
Prior to the trade, the Sabers were $18.97 million off the salary cap floor and had a maximum of $40.47 million to spend. The club has 18 pending unrestricted free agents, several of whom were with the Rochester Americans, and a major restricted free agent in winger Victor Olofsson.
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Even if the Sabers signed Olofsson and rounded out their roster by adding a pair of goaltenders, plus a defenseman, they would be too close to the ground for Adams’ comfort. This trade signals what became evident with Adams’ late-season comments: Buffalo won’t be a big spender this summer.
The Sabers are moving forward with their young core and don’t want to speed up the rebuild by overpaying free agents. Most of the list returns in the fall. And while there’s money to spend this summer, Buffalo needs long-term financial flexibility to sign players for contract extensions.
Tage Thompson, who had a 38-goal season at center, will be a restricted free agent next summer. Rasmus Dahlin still has two years left on his contract which is $6 million over the salary cap. Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Asplund, Mattias Samuelsson and Casey Fitzgerald will also be restricted free agents next summer.
Olofsson, 26, has scored 20 goals this season despite a wrist injury which has impacted his shooting. He is expected to receive a qualifying offer of $3.25 million, according to CapFriendly.com, and would get more if he seeks arbitration.
Most of Buffalo’s unrestricted free agents are not expected to return, a group that includes center Cody Eakin and defenseman Colin Miller. Vinnie Hinostroza, Craig Anderson and Mark Pysyk are among those who could be back. Some of the departures are likely to be replaced by entry-level contract players, such as prospects Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka.
The Sabers now have 11 picks in the 2022 NHL Draft, which will take place in Montreal on July 7-8. They select at 9, 16 and 28 in the first round.