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Transactions, Bird Law, and Game Notes

October 6, 2021, 7:41 AM ET [687 Comments]
Hank Balling
Buffalo Sabres Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Sabres have made a bunch of moves in the past few days so that feels like an appropriate place to start this blog:

- The Sabres claimed winger Axel Jonsson-Fjallby off waivers on Monday. The Swedish-born forward who is best known for his speed has played with Rasmus Dahlin in the past at World Junior Championship events. He was unavailable to play last night so Vinnie Hinostroza took his spot.

- Tage Thompson is a center now. That’s… um… an interesting move based on the fact that Tage Thompson has never played center at the AHL or NHL level. Don Granato said on Tuesday that Dylan Cozens could spend time on the wing if he continues to struggle and it’s a possibility that Cozens could play with Thompson as his center. It’s a wild, wild life.

- The Sabres assigned Ryan MacInnis, Sean Malone, Matej Pekar, Linus Weissbach, Oskari Laaksonen and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to Rochester on Tuesday. The Sabres are taking a proper path with UPL and that’s to be commended. He’s simply not ready to play in the NHL based on his performances in his two preseason starts, during which he let in 10 goals. He’ll go to Rochester and get the quality starts he needs. Linus Weissbach will be a fascinating player to watch in the coming months for Rochester as he tries to establish his scoring game at the AHL level following a successful NCAA career. Very excited to track his progress



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I am not a lawyer in real life, although like Charlie Kelly, I do practice amateur bird law.



There has been some question recently about whether the Sabres would be below the salary cap floor – and therefore eligible to be penalized by the league – if they suspended Jack Eichel without pay for refusal to accept their preferred course of medical treatment for his bad neck. With that in mind, I decided to thumb through the concise and extremely entertaining Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to see if I could come up with any answers to that question.

Boy was that fun.

I was thrilled to read about the new “Change to Specialist Fee Guide for Dental Claims in Canada; Increase Routine Dental Exams from One to Two per Plan Year” under the 2020 CBA.

That was a game changer.

In all seriousness, I did find this in the Memorandum of Understanding which was an addendum to the CBA ratified last offseason which further outlines Jack Eichel’s second (and third) opinion options:

Whether or not the Club pays for the second opinion, your Club is required to give it serious consideration, although it is not binding on the Club. If the Club Doctor disagrees with your second opinion doctor, the dispute can be referred to a third, independent, doctor for their opinion. The Club is required to pay for the independent doctor’s opinion.


Please see “Addendum F” on page 42 of the CBA MOU for more information if you so choose, you absolute sadist. Curiously, I haven’t heard if the Sabres and Eichel went together to a third doctor, and what, if anything that third doctor had to say about the situation. It’s also worth noting that the 2020 MOU, an addendum to the CBA, is full of stuff about injury disputes. I hadn’t heard anyone talking about that recently. Check it out; there’s probably 20 pages of that stuff out of 72.

Anyway, here’s what I found about whether Eichel’s salary would count toward the Sabres hitting the salary cap floor if the team decided to suspend him. I followed the breadcrumb trail in the CBA beginning at the section regarding the upper and lower limits of the cap.

According to section “50.5 Team Payroll Range System; Lower Limit and Upper Limit; Payroll Room; Lower Limit and Upper Limit Accounting,” subsection D: “(d) Averaging of Annual Amounts of Player Salary and Bonuses for Multi-Year SPCs; ‘Averaged Club Salary’; ‘Averaged Amount.’ The rules set forth herein with respect to ‘Averaged Club Salary’ and ‘Averaged Amount’ shall apply only to the calculation of Club Payroll Room,” “Illustration #2,” Paragraph B on page 266:

For any period during which the Player under a Long-Term Contract is no longer playing in the League during the term of that Long-Term Contract by reason of retirement, "defection" from the NHL or otherwise (but not death) (such that he is not playing and is not receiving Salary pursuant to that Long-Term Contract), an amount attributable to that Player shall nonetheless continue to be included in his Club’s Averaged Club Salary as described below.


Again, not a lawyer of any kind. I’m just an idiot with internet access reading the NHL’s CBA. Huge disclaimer out of the way, that looks to me like the Sabres could count Jack Eichel’s salary to meet the salary cap floor. I simply did my best to read through that jargon and try to find something applicable. There is a ton of information in there about how suspended players will not count against the “upper limit” of the salary cap, but there is almost nothing that says anything about the “lower limit.”


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Let’s get to some combined thoughts from the preseason games against Columbus and Pittsburgh:


- The NHL needs to change its hand-pass rule. It makes no sense for the hand pass to be legal in the defensive zone for the defending team but illegal in all other situations. Just make the hand pass legal. Or don’t. Make a decision.

- Victor Olofsson looks faster. Maybe it’s just the #71 jersey formerly worn by Evan Rodrigues.

- I will not deviate from the belief that JJ Peterka is an NHL player. If they decide that he’s better off in Rochester to avoid the incoming trainwreck, so be it, but that kid could play now on a team that is trying to win. He’s got some Thomas Vanek in him as he looks to exit the zone a tad early. I can picture Lindy Ruff’s blood pressure rising now.

- Mark Pysyk is looking like the odd man out of the defense group. That’s too bad. The analytics have always been in his favor, even if he’s not a flashy, fun player.

- Dahlin needs to show more urgency in his game, especially in the defensive zone. He often looks too lackadaisical in his own end.

- The Sabres need to learn how to keep the pressure on at the end of periods. Too often they let their foot off the gas and try to coast into the intermission rather than play hard from whistle-to-whistle as they should. At the end of the first and second periods against the Penguins, the Sabres allowed multiple chances against in the closing moments.

- Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons are still the same guys they were a year ago. The Sabres will get steady, unspectacular play from them both. If Cozens is moved to the wing then look for Girgensons to get plenty of time at center this season.

- Terrific shootout to end the Sabres/Penguins game. That’s why the shootout is a fun way to end a game even if plenty of people don’t like it and view it as a novelty.

- Tage Thompson is actually using his enormous frame this season so far. It’s to be determined if this plan to have him at center makes any sense but the early returns look surprisingly promising.

- Tokarski is playing better than Dell. His calmness and positioning look superior.
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