The Buffalo Sabres put forward Patrik Berglund on unconditional waivers Wednesday, with the intention of terminating his contract. The feeling is mutual, as the 30-year-old Swede is walking away from over $12 million.
It breaks down like this: with 108 days to go this season and three years remaining on the deal following this season, Berglund is leaving a lot of money on the table. That’s, you know, not normal.
The saga began when Berglund was suspended by Buffalo for failing to show up for work.
Things imploded for the Vasteras native after he was traded to the Sabres on July 1 in a package that sent Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis.
Berglund was drafted by the Blues in 2006 and spent his career there before the summer trade sent him packing and he could not pull it together in Buffalo. He was benched a few times and posted just four points in 23 games.
In any normal season, that type of inferior play might’ve been able to fly among the Sabres. But this season is different and Buffalo is trying to convince people they’re a real hockey team, which means there’s no time for any of Berglund’s shenanigans.
At one point dubbed the “next Mats Sundin” by sports writers and analysts, Berglund never really quite reached his reported potential. He’ll have another shot somewhere else down the line, maybe.
The thing about these sorts of no-show situations is they don’t endure a player to a hockey team, which means Berglund will have an uphill climb back into the NHL. He’s a decent utility player on the ice and he’s still “young” enough to crack a roster or two.
But it all comes back to attitude. If Berglund can prove that his convictions won out in the end and he just wanted to play hockey, he may have a shot somewhere.
The other interesting wrinkle here is that the Sabres, at long last, have the luxury to not care. They’re good enough to motor through this off-ice drama without a scratch, which says something about the quality of hockey they’re putting together this season. By the looks of things, they wanted Berglund out and they wanted him out yesterday. There was no sense prolonging things by hunting for an elusive trade.
So now, both player and team are free. Nobody really loves a divorce story at Christmastime, but this one could have a happy ending after all.