Tim Murray’s dramatic rebuild in Buffalo continued on Monday, as he declined to make a qualifying offer for RFA defenseman Jamie McBain, and said RFA forward Cory Conacher would “maybe” get one.
That Buffalo parted ways with McBain, 26, is pretty interesting. He played a lot last year — 69 games, averaging over 20 minutes a night — and had decent offensive output with six goals and 17 points. He was on a two-year, $3.6 million deal with a $1.8 million cap hit, so it’s hard to figure why the Sabres didn’t even attempt to bring him back, given they’re $20 million away from the salary cap floor.
The Buffalo News’ John Vogl sheds light on why Murray may have made the decision…
Sabres GM Tim Murray looking for older, character guys for roster. Says this free agent crop has plenty if that.
— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 30, 2014
As for Conacher, this marks the latest in a steady decline since a banner rookie campaign in which he scored 29 points in 47 games and finished sixth in Calder voting. He was scooped off waivers from Ottawa last season and performed reasonably well for Buffalo, scoring six points in 19 games.
That said, Buffalo was his third team in less than a calendar year and there are concerns his diminutive stature (5-foot-8, 179 pounds) just won’t cut it in the NHL long-term.