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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Brian Campbell is a good defenseman and, by all accounts, a very good citizen, too.

So why are the Buffalo Sabres playing games where his contract extension is concerned?

Because they’re smart, that’s why.

It would be very easy for the slumping Sabres to cave into Campbell’s salary demands; you know, give the locals something to smile about as the team’s losses continue to mount.

But that would be a very temporary fix. And when the Sabres eventually turn things around, do they really want an overpaid defenseman on their hands?

To be fair, I’m not certain what Campbell is asking for.

One could surmise, however, it will be a heck of a lot more than the $1.75 million a season he’s earning now and for some very serious term. And he’s worth a hefty raise, but having severely overpaid to keep Thomas Vanek on the heels of foolishly allowing Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to escape as unrestricted free agents, the Sabres must be cautious not to make another mistake by overpaying Campbell.

There will be other defensemen available as UFAs for the Sabres and there will also be teams looking to shift players under contract to satisfy salary cap requirements.

It’s a mistake for a team to overbid simply to keep a player already on its roster without exploring the possibility of replacing him with somebody as good (or at least nearly as good) who comes at a cheaper rate.

In the end, the Sabres may wind up re-signing Campbell and I’m certain that’s their goal.

But to overpay a player in an attempt to atone for previous failures is a very unhealthy strategy.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

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