Could The Sabres Sign Evgeni Malkin?
The Buffalo Sabres season ended without a playoff appearance. It's now 11 straight seasons the Sabres have missed the postseason, which is the longest streak in the four major North America sports.
While it has not been a fun ride over the past decade for Sabres fans, the team did play better after January and it's clear they have found a core worth building around, with Tage Thompson, Rasmus Dahlin, Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch and Mattias Samuelsson.
However, the Sabres still need a goalie and both of their top prospects, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo are returning to their college teams for one more season.
The Sabres will also have a ton of cap space to play with.
According to Spotrac, the Sabres only have $40 million allocated for contracts going into the 2022-2023 season. This does not include the AHL players the team has yet to bring onto the roster, nor the unrestricted free agents heading into the summer.
Still, the Sabres will have to spend money this off-season. The salary cap will be $81.5 million for the 2022-2023 season, with a salary cap floor just over $60 million.
That means, the Sabres have to spend at least $20+ million in salary this season. Could they target a big name or two to add to a youthful roster?
According to NHL reporter for The Athletic Pittsburgh, via Andrew Fillipponi, the Pittsburgh Penguins offered longtime stars Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin three-year deals worth $15 million. That did not sit well with captain, Sidney Crosby.
Former NHL player and current analyst, Ray Ferraro, said on the OverDrive show that he would be shocked if Malkin is back in Pittsburgh next season, as he is due to be an unrestricted free agent.
The Penguins were eliminated in seven games against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals this past weekend, ending their season.
The Sabres will need to spend money this summer, whether they want to or not. The team will likely sign at least two or three free agents and trade for another player or two -- just to reach the required salary cap floor.
Malkin will turn 36 in July, so he's not going to get a longterm deal, but will likely want over $7 million per season. He's still a nearly point-per-game player, and was on pace to score 40 goals in 2021-2022, had he not suffered an injury.
Malkin might be in play for the Sabres, but going to a contending team who needs to add a final piece might be more enticing for Malkin.