The dust is still settling, but early Sunday morning the NHL labor impasse finally ended. With Gary Bettman and Don Fehr standing in front of the media they announced a tentative deal that will allow the 2012-13 hockey season to be played.
So how has the lockout impacted the Buffalo Sabres?
First, let’s recap what has transpired since September with the Sabres and their personnel. Owner Terry Pegula won a bid to build a hockey-centric complex across the street from the First Niagara Center. Mikhail Grigorenko has dominated the QMJHL for the Quebec Remparts since their season began. Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson and TJ Brennan have made huge strides in the AHL for the Rochester Americans. Jake McCabe was named captain of the United States’ World Junior Championship team that brought home gold yesterday.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy lockout for the Sabres. So where does the new deal leave the team?
The answer seems to be in basically the same position they were before it.
There has been ample talk surrounding the two amnesty buyouts, especially concerning Ville Leino, but those aren’t allowed to be used until the summer so Leino will be on the team for the remainder of the season at least.
The salary cap was set at $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season, which also happens to be the cap for the 2011-12 season. Basically that allows teams to keep their rosters pretty much the same as they were last season. The Sabres find themselves a bit over that mark at this point, but will no longer have the contracts of Robyn Regehr ($4 million), Jordan Leopold ($3 million), and Adam Pardy ($2 million), which will give ample cap room to work with. This is also where a potential Leino buyout could happen, nevermind the crafty trades that will be made to find teams to take on cash and then buy the contract out.
The new contracting rules are not retroactive, so any contract the Sabres signed over seven years – Christian Ehrhoff – is fine and will not need to be changed in any way.
Basically all that has come out of the lockout for the Sabres is lost games, and potentially lost fans.