Buffalo Sabres Remain Quiet at Start of Free Agency
When the floodgates to free agency opened on July 5, the Buffalo Sabres were passive observers as the rest of their yet-to-be-named conference added some important pieces.
The Sabres re-upped defenseman Alexander Sulzer to a one-year deal Saturday and signed another defenseman, Drew Bagnall, to a deal as well. Nathan Gerbe was also bought out, freeing up a roster space for the likes of Corey Tropp and Joel Armia.
Meanwhile, the Sabres' conference-mates made some big splashes.
Current division members made some of the biggest waves of the day. The Toronto Maple Leafs added David Clarkson, giving him a monster seven-year deal. The Boston Bruins were finally able to bring Jarome Iginla into the mix on a one-year deal. The Ottawa Senators may have lost captain Daniel Alfredsson, but acquired Anaheim sniper Bobby Ryan in a blockbuster trade.
New conference-mates did not fall behind, however. The Tampa Bay Lightning added Valtteri Filppula to be their second-line pivot. The Detroit Red Wings added Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss and could be close to bringing back Damien Brunner.
Only the Florida Panthers have remained as quiet as the Sabres.
So where does this leave the Sabres?
In reality, it does not change much. The Sabres, with or without Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, were not going to be one of the better teams in the conference next season as it was. Now it's just a bit more pronounced.
The other reality is there were not very many "great fits" for the Sabres in the market. Wingers Nathan Horton—who signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for seven years and $37 million—Ryane Clowe—who signed with the New Jersey Devils for five years and just shy of $25 million—and Clarkson were likely the best fits, but they were also extremely expensive.
Overpaying a guy is not the way to rebuild unless you believe that he will help in the long run. The three aforementioned names were potentially able to do that, but could also become huge hurdles in the rebuilding process.
Beyond that, the Sabres were quite adamant in allowing their young guys—especially Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko—the playing time needed to grow.
Signing someone for the sole purpose of signing someone goes against that.
Some free agents that they may reach out to in the coming days are Brunner, Dustin Penner and Brenden Morrow.
Morrow would be a welcome addition to the team, able to add instant leadership and grit on what is to be a very young roster next season. However, it is unlikely Morrow would want to forgo a shot at the Stanley Cup next season to play with a work in progress.
However, the Sabres' passiveness in the free-agent market is an extremely strong indication that the Sabres are not being passive in the trade market.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun tweeted on Friday that the St. Louis Blues and the Sabres have had talks regarding Ryan Miller, but that the price was "too high." While not being reported, one can assume Vanek is the subject of at least a few calls a day as well.
The Sabres also have a handful of important restricted free agents to lock up, including Hodgson, Tropp, Matt Hackett, Brian Flynn and Luke Adam.
While the Sabres have been quiet, it seems like there is a lot going on under the surface that may be the cause for some excitement in the coming days.
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