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Power Rankings: Success not coming thus far for big-spending Sabres

by | CBSSports.com NHL Blogger

The Rangers might be the NHL's best team and appear poised for a deep playoff run. (Getty Images)  
The Rangers might be the NHL's best team and appear poised for a deep playoff run. (Getty Images)  

This past summer the Buffalo Sabres spent money like no other team in the league, both in an effort to keep their own players, but also by adding a number of others through free agency and trades.

When you add it all up, new owner Terry Pegula invested over $100 million in player salaries over the next decade: Ville Leino ($27 million over six years), Christian Ehrhoff ($40 million over 10 years), Jordan Leopold ($6 million over two years), Robyn Regehr ($8 million over the next two years), and don't forget about their own young players that received lucrative contract extensions, with Tyler Myers signing a seven-year deal that kicks in next season and pays him over $5 million per year, and the four-year, $16 million pact Drew Stafford signed.

All of that was added to a team that made the playoffs last season -- finishing the regular season with 96 points -- and has what is considered to be one of the best goalies in the NHL in Ryan Miller.

Things should be going great at this point, right?

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Not exactly, especially when it's looking more and more like a lot of that money was spent in the wrong places and on the wrong players.

It's not that guys like Ehrhoff and Leino aren't skilled players that serve a purpose and can play a role on a good team, because they are. But a 10-year deal for Ehrhoff and expecting him to produce the way he did in Vancouver while racking up points on the power play with Henrik and Daniel Sedin was not reasonable. Leino, for all of his skill (and he is very skilled), has only produced over one full season in the NHL -- and that earned him $27 million over six years.

Entering the week the Sabres were tied for the worst spot in the Eastern Conference (with Carolina) and were a full 10 points out of what would be the eighth and final playoff spot.

Of course, the team has dealt with its share of injuries this season, a fact that Pegula pointed to last week when discussing what has been an incredibly disappointing season. And while that is true, they have had a ton of injuries, they're not the only team that's had to deal with them, and they're not much of an excuse for the way the team has played over the past two months, winning just four of its past 20 games.

During their current five-game losing streak, for example, they've been outscored 23-7 and were out-shot, often times by a significant margin, in four of them. They're not just losing right now, they're not even competitive. And they've quickly fallen into a hole this season that they're not going to be able to climb out of, and some of these deals could prove to be thorns in their side heading into future seasons.


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