Little more than two weeks ago, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray went on local radio station WGR-550 and said the organization was considering a buyout for 25-year-old Cody Hodgson. As of Monday, the club has taken the first step in making a buyout a reality.
The Sabres placed Hodgson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout Monday and, by Tuesday, Hodgson will likely have cleared waivers and be bought out, becoming an unrestricted free agent just two seasons after inking a six-year, $25.5 million extension with Buffalo.
While the Sabres moving on from Hodgson isn’t altogether shocking – he is coming off of a season in which he notched six goals and 13 points which is far and away the worst season of his five-year pro career – but that it’s happening by way of a buyout still comes as somewhat of a surprise. It does speak, however, to just how difficult it is to move a contract in the salary cap era.
Hodgson is young enough yet that he still has a few good years in him before he’s at his prime, yet the Sabres were unable to free themselves of the contract via trade. Recouping assets for Hodgson instead of buying him out would have been a better deal for the Sabres, but the inability to do so left them with few options.
There are silver linings for both parties, though.
For Buffalo and Murray, the club will only be on the hook for one-third of Hodgson’s remaining salary because he’s under the age of 26. Generally speaking, players who are bought out are older than Hodgson and, as such, are owed two-thirds of what’s left on their deal. Once bought out, Hodgson’s deal should hit the Sabres for less than $800,000 per season, according to War-On-Ice’s buyout calculator. That’s roughly the cost of one fourth-line player, an amount that should be easy to deal with thanks to a salary cap that rises year over year.
As for Hodgson, this gives the one-time 20-goal scorer the chance to find his groove in a new locale next season. There’s no doubt he’ll have a number of suitors and with more than a few good years left ahead of him, Hodgson is freed from the weight of a big-money deal that came with high expectations.
Hodgson averaged more than .60 points-per-game in consecutive seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Once the expected buyout goes through – and once Hodgson becomes an unrestricted free agent – it’s unlikely he’ll command anything near the $4.25 million average salary he was making with Buffalo. At a cut rate, he could be a low-risk, high-reward signing that has the ability to pot upwards of 15 goals.
Hodgson was the 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the Vancouver Canucks and was dealt to the Sabres in 2012 alongside Alexander Sulzer in exchange for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Graganni.