Tim Connolly signed a two-year, $9 million extension with the Sabres on trade deadline day. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
It has got to the point where I don’t even know what fair market value is in the NHL anymore. So you look at Filip Kuba getting a three-year deal worth $3.7 million per and your eyebrows go up. Then you wonder, “What the heck were the Senators thinking? That’s almost double the average salary in the NHL.”
Then you look and you notice the amount is less than Mike Commodore got from the Columbus Blue Jackets last year. And even though Kuba is tied for 169th among defensemen in hits this season, he leads the Senators in ice time, is way ahead in plus-minus on his team and is Ottawa’s top-scoring defenseman.
Seems like crazy money, but it’s also apparently the going rate for a player of Kuba’s caliber. Kuba is three years older than Commodore with more offensive upside and less of a physical presence, so we’ll give that to him.
Tim Connolly, now that’s crazy money. Nine million dollars over two years for a decent playmaking center who has averaged 40 games each of the past four seasons? A perfect example of optics overcoming reason. The Sabres have lost J-P Dumont, Chris Drury, Daniel Briere and Brian Campbell – turns out all four of them are being grossly overpaid by their new teams – and couldn’t afford to take the public relations hit of watching another player leave town for more money.
The problem with Connolly is he’s an injury-prone player and as St. Louis Blues director of player personnel Doug Armstrong once said, “The problem with injury-prone players is they tend to get injured.”
Fortunately for the team and GM Darcy Regier, the Sabres will probably get most of that Connolly cap space back in cap relief once Connolly inevitably goes down again next season. But the Sabres aren’t concerned about the cap; they should be more concerned with how much money they’re spending. And because Sabres owner Tom Golisano has sold the fans of Buffalo a bill of goods – capacity crowds and long playoff runs in exchange for slashing payroll – the Sabres found themselves in a situation where they had to overpay to keep a high-profile player.
On the rumor front, we’re hearing the possibility of a major deal involving the Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes. The Flyers are apparently offering the Coyotes goalie Martin Biron and forwards Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall in exchange for Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
A deal like that would give the Flyers some help in goal, but might not give them much in the cap relief department. It would free them up from the long-term deal with Lupul (four more years at $4.25 million per year, man that’s Connolly money!), while Upshall ($1.3 million this season) and Biron ($3.5 million this season) will be free agents (RFA and UFA respectively) after this season.
Morris ($3.9 million this season) is due to become an unrestricted free agent after this season and Bryzgalov is on the books for $4.25 million for two more seasons.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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