Free Agents to Watch
I decided to sit down and take a look at some of the players still on the market that could fit some Sabres needs. I then attempted to break down the likelihood of those players being signed. Finally I looked at where they could possibly end up.
For the most part the Sabres are done in free agency to this point. With Kovalchuk out of the way though things will start to move. Buffalo could use a top-6 right wing. It could use another veteran scorer. It could use some more size up front.
An offensive defenseman and a hard hitting, shot blocking defenseman would help. They also need depth players for Portland. A trade could free up roster spots and some of those holes could be filled by these remaining free agents. Regier has some cap space to work with. Look out, the summer isn’t over!
Players Still on the Market:
Willie Mitchell: Perhaps the best player still up for grabs Mitchell is a physical, shot blocking defenseman who nearly put Jonathan Toews in a coma! The issue with Mitchell is his past injury trouble. He suffered a season ending concussion and it appears he is unsure of his ability to play at this time.
He could sign later in the summer when he has healed more, or he could sign somewhere later in the season. Can Regier sign him? Probably. Will he? I doubt it, Mitchell would take big bucks and a long term deal to sign and I don’t see Regier dropping cash like that on a defenseman until next summer if ever. Possible Destinations: Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, Edmonton
Alexander Frolov: The most talented offensive player still on the market would be a great #2 LW to Vanek’s #1. This will never happen. He is too enigmatic (see Russian Wingers) and would not fit well into a Lindy Ruff system. Possible Destinations: KHL, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Atlanta
Teemu Selanne: Will probably resign in Anaheim later this summer now that Saku Koivu is back in the fold. Selanne could still retire. Possible Teams: Anaheim
Lee Stempniak: The best RW left of the bunch Stempniak could provide useful scoring on the 1st or 2nd line in Buffalo. Issues with Stempniak are his streakiness and scoring woes in certain systems. His lack of size and playoff success may also play factors.
He has said he would like to come to Buffalo. He might be the perfect player for Buffalo, he could also be a bust. He’s looking for a long term deal, if he can’t find it Regier might take a crack at him late this summer. Possible Destinations: Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Nashville, Phoenix, Pittsburgh
Alexei Ponikarovsky: Is a big 2nd line left wing, Buffalo doesn’t really need him. Some fans may say they do for his size but he really doesn’t use it. He was a flop in Pittsburgh. I’d rather have Jochen Hecht. Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Columbus
Kim Johnsson: Another defenseman with concussion woes. He too will need to deem himself ready to play before signing on. He is an offensive guy and could be useful on the Sabres’ powerplay. If he is signed Chris Butler or Andrej Sekera would need to be moved out. Possible Teams: LA, Edmonton, Florida, Buffalo
Paul Kariya: Is not coming to Buffalo. His name will get him more money than he deserves at this point in his career. He could retire as well. Possible Destinations: Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, Ottawa
Bill Guerin: The wily veteran can still score goals at age 39. Could also be a good leader in the locker room. He is the type of player that Regier has been known to surprise fans by signing. He could really push younger players for playing time and either play well himself or make the youngsters better. Possible Destinations: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Buffalo, Dallas
Andy Sutton: The fact that Sutton hasn’t been signed yet bodes well for the Sabres. He is the kind of shot blocking, heavy hitting defenseman that could replace Toni Lydman. He could be ignored because Buffalo is buying into Mike Weber in that role.
I’m sold too, but we’ll have to see. It might be better to have an established guy like Sutton; if Rivet or Montador has to sit I won’t be heartbroken. He has had injury problems in the past. Possible Destinations: Edmonton, Buffalo, Florida, Minnesota
Owen Nolan: See Bill Guerin. He also brings a physical game and can play on the lower lines. Possible Destinations: Pittsburgh, Anaheim, San Jose, Buffalo
Freddy Meyer: Could be a great depth option on defense. The Sabres are already stacked with defensemen. Possible Destinations: Edmonton, Carolina, Florida, Anaheim
Aaron Asham: Could be a good depth forward signing. He has good speed and will protect his teammates. Possible Destinations: NY Rangers, Tampa Bay, Washington, Colorado
Marc-Andre Bergeron: Is great on the powerplay but is limited defensively. Could be a roleplayer but wouldn’t be worth the money. Possible Destinations: Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, NY Islanders
Jay Mckee: Buffalo fans have been clamoring for Mckee for some time. This might be the ideal year for it to happen. He has lost a step, but he can still block shots like a champ. Could be a spot fix for Lydman’s absence. Could be a depth signing that adds some leadership to the room as well. Possible Destinations: Edmonton, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Florida, Buffalo
Depth Options: The Sabres would like to sign some depth players for their AHL affiliate in Portland. They already have Tim Conboy under contract who could be next? An NHL veteran would be ideal in terms of leadership. A European veteran scorer could also help the younger players grow while providing depth to the team.
Veteran Depth NHL: Ryan Bayda (LW), Andy Delmore (D), Carsen Germyn (RW), Brad May (LW)
Foreign Market Depth: Michael Wolf (DEL), Tore Vikingstad (DEL), Richard Zednik (KHL), Sven Felski (DEL), Mats Trygg (GET), Mads Hansen (SEL)
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