The Sabres made a surprise move today, waiving left winger Tim Kennedy this morning only four days after the South Buffalo native was awarded a one-year contract worth $1 million through arbitration. Kennedy was not immediately available for comment, but his agent confirmed the move today.
Buffalo's decision was surprising on many fronts but pointed toward the team being unhappy with the arbitration ruling. They were not allowed to walk away from the arbitration decision under league rules because Kennedy would have made less than $1.6 million. The Sabres were offering him a contract in the $800,000 range before landing in arbitration.
"It makes no sense to me," said Allain Roy, Kennedy's agent. "You'll have to talk to Darcy on that one. It's an enigma to everybody in hockey."
The Sabres were hoping to wait until Kennedy cleared waivers to make the announcement, but news of their decision leaked out this afternoon. Sabres GM Darcy Regier was not immediately available for comment. TSN reported they would likely buy out his contract for $333,333 for the next two years. He would likely become an unrestricted free agent.
Waiving Kennedy appears to be their way of trying to save money in any way possible. Kennedy hardly would have broken the bank with a $1 million salary, and they were about $9 million under the $59.7 million salary cap. Regier offered no hints that the Sabres would waive him after he was awarded the $1 million salary last week.
"For us, [the award] was a little higher than we expected certainly but we'll work with it," Regier said at the time. "Tim is a player we think can improve. We expect him to improve and we'll work with him in that regard. We worked off what we thought he would get in arbitration as did they and that really is the process."
Kennedy had 10 goals and 26 points during his rookie season for his hometown team. He was among their better forwards in the postseason. He finished strong in the regular season with seven points and a plus-6 rating in an eight-game stretch after a 19-game slump in which he had only two points. He spent most of the season on the checking line against the opposition's top scoring line.
The decision was surprising given Kennedy's effectiveness during his rookie season and his popularity as a hometown favorite. The 24-year-old grew up a Sabres fan about 5 miles from HSBC Arena and was looking forward to improving on his rookie year. All signs pointed toward him returning after the ruling, which appeared to be fair given other players with his talent and experience.
"I don't think this has ever happened in the history of the NHL," Roy said. "We went through the process. Now they're going through a process of their own to do what they feel is right. I think everybody was shocked."
--- Bucky Gleason