By John Vogl
The Buffalo Sabres are about $20 million away from the salary cap floor on the day before free agency, and General Manager Tim Murray remains unconcerned about his ability to reach it.
Murray, who introduced first-round draft pick Sam Reinhart this morning in First Niagara Center, says plenty of teams near the cap ceiling will start dumping contracts if they get their free-agent targets. That will be benefit the Sabres in their attempt to boost payroll.
Murray says he's been getting a lot of calls from representatives of unrestricted free agents, but he's not sure if the Sabres are first on the players' lists or 20th. That holds true for Steve Ott and Matt Moulson.
The Sabres' top free-agent targets will be older, character guys who can help mentor the prospects. Murray said this crop is filled with those players, but they shouldn't expect more than a one- or two-year deal because the GM doesn't want his prospects' path to the NHL blocked when they're ready to make the jump.
Today is the deadline for restricted free agents to receive qualifying offers, and Murray said defenseman Jamie McBain and goalie Connor Knapp will not be qualified. That makes them unrestricted free agents.
Cory Conacher, according to Murray, is a "maybe" get a qualifying offer. Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Chad Ruhwedel, Luke Adam and Matt Hackett will all be qualified.
To hear from Murray and Reinhart, click the audio file below