Buffalo Sabres: 5 Intriguing Free-Agent Fowards They Could Pursue
Darcy Regier will face his second summer with his pockets loaded by Terry Pegula. Last year, despite making some good additions like Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff, he gave Ville Leino a six-year, $27 million contract.
This year, the Sabres don't need to go after the marquee forwards such as Zach Parise or Alexander Semin. They have now the chance to right their boat before they get to the situation that the Canadiens are in today.
Here are some five intriguing forwards who don't seem "sexy" at first glance but could help the Sabres to the sought-after Stanley Cup.
In the last two years, Tuomo Ruutu has scored 104 points in 136 games. That means, he scored 0.76 points per game up to this season. This is a pretty good total for a player that hasn't been a part of the playoffs for the same amount of time.
The Sabres shouldn't add Ruutu because he adds a much-needed offensive push. Ruutu should be added because of his size and of his hitting capability.
The 6', 205-pound center definitely has the size to play Lindy Ruff's system of crashing the net with the ability to give and take punishment. This is sorely missing in the Sabre lineup this season.
If the Sabres could get Ruutu at less than $3.5 million, he would be a very nice addition in the second line for less than what Brad Boyes cost.
Talk about a guy to crash the net! Travis Moen is a very good third-line winger who could help the Sabres with his size alone.
We all know that it is extremely hard for the Canadiens to make the playoffs and thanks to their situation of being packed against the cap with P.K. Subban and Carey Price due for big paydays, Montreal won't be able to keep all of them. Gauthier will try to salvage his organization by trading this guy for some draft picks but, if he makes it to free agency, Regier should go after him very hard.
For less than half of Jochen Hecht's salary, Moen would give the Sabres the needed size and even some points throughout the season.
His cap hit is $1.5 million; if the Sabres could add Moen for the same cap hit or even up to $1.8 million, I think it would be worth it.
Brandon Prust would be a very good fit in Buffalo. A great guy in the locker room, Prust would provide the Sabres with a legitimate enforcer. Prust is not afraid to mix it up to defend the team's stars, and he lays down big hits every game.
Prust is not expected to produce an exorbitant amount of points, and he doesn't command top dollar from the front office. Despite my doubts that he would ever want to leave the Rangers, if this guy makes it to free agency, there is no reason why the Sabres shouldn't keep an eye out for him.
Before you rush down to the comments to thrash me and call me all sorts of names, hear me out for a second.
Jonathan Cheechoo, in my mind, is one of the enigmas in the post-lockout NHL. How can a guy who won the Rocket Richard Trophy in the season after the lockout be bought out by a then-slumping Ottawa Senators and now be a minor leaguer for the St. Louis Blues organization?
Despite everything, I still think this guy is still worth a shot. If he can regain his interest and drive for the game, he has the size and touch to be a very serviceable second-liner for the Sabres.
With a cap of $1.16 million, his addition is extremely unattractive. If Regier could get him to accept a contract with a cap hit of $850,000 it might be a very nice addition, but this player is a high-risk and high-reward addition, so I'm still skeptical.
John Madden is 38 years old and by next season he'll be 39. Despite the old age, he's still bringing it. After being a mainstay in the New Jersey Devils for 10 years, he took his talents to the Blackhawks and helped them win the Stanley Cup.
Taking up the third-line center role that was played to perfection by his teammate in the Devils, Bobby Holik, Madden has been playing well and for a low cap hit.
Despite playing only two games for the Panthers this season, for a cap hit of $600,000, Madden could be an excellent addition to the Sabres fourth line to mentor the rookies coming up from Rochester.
I think that Buffalo's problems run deeper than injuries and misfortune. The Sabres have been pitiful this season, and it'll be a victory to just make the playoffs. Having said that, it is with great sadness that I can also confirm that there will be no organizational shake-up in the near future.
So, if we are going to see the same faces leading the team next year, this list is proof that I tried to find signings that would make sense and would help the Sabres.