Sabres sign Weber; three more RFAs to go
The Buffalo Sabres signed one of their restricted free agents, defenseman Mike Weber, to a two-year deal on Monday. Weber, a native of Pittsburgh, played in 58 games for the Sabres last season. The 23-year-old will now be signed through June of 2013, costing Buffalo an annual cap hit of $950,000 a year. Weber also received a $100,000 signing bonus.
For his price, Weber should prove to be a great player for the Sabres over the next two years. The 211-pounder is known mainly as a defensive defenseman with a mean streak, having recorded 99 blocks and a team-best 158 hits last season, though he does possess the ability to get on the score sheet (four goals, 13 assists in 2010-11). Over a full season, and with some more polish to his game, he could end up as a 30-point producer.
With this signing, Buffalo now has just $354,000 left in cap space, as per capgeek.com. That means Buffalo will have to move some salary off its 23-man roster by October. The Sabres still have some notable RFAs left to sign in goalie Jhonas Enroth and defensemen Andrej Sekera and Marc-Andre Gragnani. Sekera, who will cost the most of the trio, has been the one placed on the chopping block by many Buffalo fans because of his expected rise in salary and trade value. Enroth, who put up very good numbers as a rookie, will almost certainly be the Sabres backup goaltender next year. Finally, there’s Gragnani – who shined when given a chance during the playoffs. The 23 year old was the best defenseman in the AHL last regular season and, during the playoffs with the Sabres, recorded seven points (1+6) in seven games against the Flyers, averaging almost 22 minutes a game. While it is a small sample size to go on, the Sabres are expected to sign Gragnani and have him on their roster next season.
To make room for the RFAs, veterans Shaone Morrisonn and Ales Kotalik will likely be jettisoned, freeing over $5 million in cap space. Paul Hamilton of WGR reported recently that Morrisonn asked the Sabres to waive him. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.
For now, with Weber signed cheaply, the organization’s focus should be on locking up Enroth, Sekera and Gragnani, and then worrying about the fates of Morrisonn and Kotalik.