The Buffalo Sabres will be over the NHL’s salary cap floor by the start of the season, that much is obvious. While CapFriendly currently has the club sitting $2.3 million below the $60.2 million benchmark, that is with a 22-man roster that does not include unsigned RFA defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. While the 2018 first overall pick is not quite yet proven himself worthy of the considerable long-term deals signed by other top defensemen this offseason, he will surely make more than $2.3 million average annual value on his next contract.
Yet, that does not end the Sabres’ battle with the cap floor. Just because they begin the season over the floor does not mean that they will remain there all season – or at least not if they wish to have flexibility with their transactions. Buffalo is again expected to be among the NHL’s worst teams this season and will be open to selling current members of the roster. Of course, Jack Eichel is the biggest name who could be available. However, at $10 million average annual value, it has been brought up numerous times that an Eichel trade is not as easy as it may seem. A team might offer a plethora of top picks, prospects and entry-level players, but the Sabres would not be able to make that deal alone, as it would leave Buffalo well below the salary cap floor regardless of Dahlin’s contract. Buffalo would have to acquire a nearly equal amount of salary back in the deal or else be prepared to quickly turn and add that salary in another deal. As a rebuilding team, the Sabres also won’t be eager to add high-priced veterans who serve little purpose to a team with no title hopes. It makes an already difficult situation with Eichel all that much trickier.