With the handcuffs off Darcy Regier is proving to be resourceful and more aggressive than myself and most Sabres fans have ever given him credit for. Signing Ehrhoff was a great move to add a durable blueline presence who can command the Sabres PP until Myers or Gragnani is ready and chip in 30-35 assists for the next decade. People are complaining about the term of the contract, but in today's NHL you have to give up the money, or give up the years. In this case Pegula and Co. chose to give Christian a 10 year commitment in order to keep his cap hit relatively low, considering he would have fetched 5mil or more on the open market. (Wisniewski?) Obviously the frontloaded deal has shades of Kovygate in terms of cap circumvention but it's comparing apples to oranges as there is enough precedent league wide to make a case that Ehrhoff can still contribute in his upper thirties. Unlike Kovalchuk who will undoubtedly be retired before his deal with the Devil(s) ends.
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Today the Sabres also retained a heart and soul 4th liner in Cody McCormick who was the hardest working player on the team last year. For that he was rewarded with a raise earning him 1.2 mil for the next three years. I like this signing, Cody is popular among the team and fanbase for leaving it all on the ice despite his limited ice time. Cody should center the 4th line this year which stands to be much improved with the logjam Buffalo has up front. Though the glut of forwards was depleted by one today as Mark Mancari signed in Vancouver.
Now the big news of the day the Buffalo Sabres have signed Ville Leino to a six year contract worth 27mil for a cap hit of 4.5mil per year. I guess this means they are out on the Richards sweepstakes. If you can't get a playmaking center...get a playmaking winger! I'm not in love with this deal as it still doesn't address the need for a top line center, and it borders on overpayment. However, there simply isn't a center out there for them that fits their need so they went and got the best player available and that's never a bad thing. Leino should fit in well this young crop of forwards. He has excellent vision and is great in the corners shielding the puck away from defenders waiting for a shooter to pop into open ice. I imagine he would gel well with Vanek or Stafford depending on which side he'll play. He's also pretty solid in his own end which will earn him points with Ruff.
Regarding the dollar amount, Ville Leino is a late bloomer, so he's essentially being based on a playoff run two years ago and this past year. Much like a rookie he still has potential to improve. If he can turn his 53 point seasons into 65 point seasons he'll earn every penny of that 4.5mil. If not than he's certainly overpaid. However given the deals Fleishmann, Kopecky, Cole, and Upshall received today i think the Sabres are getting better bang for their buck than most other teams.
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