It wasn’t too long ago that Steve Montador or Rob Niedermayer were considered significant free agent signings for the Buffalo Sabres. After a whirlwind week that saw the Sabres ink defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and forward Ville Leino to long-term deals, as well as trade for defenseman Robyn Regehr, it appears as though Buffalo can match any team in the NHL financially.
The Sabres’ new owner Terry Pegula proved that he was more than just talk when he opened up his checkbook and provided Buffalo with one of the league’s highest payrolls. While most Sabres’ fans were thrilled with the change in philosophy, some still believe that greater measures need to be taken to make the Sabres true Stanley Cup contenders.
The signing of Leino and subsequent suggestion by head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier that Leino would play center was met with mixed reactions. Although Leino should add some diversity to Buffalo’s offensive attack, many think the addition of a true No. 1 center is still a necessity.
While Regier intimated that he was happy with the team as is, he also said that he would continue to explore trade options. Prior to free agency, Regier said that a trade window would likely open a few weeks into the free agency period. With that in mind, Buffalo may still be in the market for another center.
With plenty of depth on the wing, players like Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht and even Jason Pominville could be moved in a trade for a center or a separate deal to clear cap space for an incoming center. The Sabres also possess considerable prospect depth, particularly on defense. When you add in 2012 draft picks, it is clear that Buffalo has the assets to acquire a legitimate top-line center.
Here are five realistic center options the Sabres can acquire this offseason.