6/24/10 - This time of the season is the most exciting to me. It’s where champions are built. Darcy Regeir always says that he will build his team in the off-season. Darcy Regeir’s time to make a move is NOW. We have some key ingredients, including an all-world goalie, a number 1 defenseman, and a 40 goal scoring winger. We have some very important third and fourth line guys as well. We must improve though. Improving this team can only come from within to a certain point. There comes a time where you must add talent from without in trades and free agency. Great teams and great General Managers know how to combine all three into success. The Buffalo Sabres never replaced Chris Drury, they never replaced J.P. Dumont, and they never replaced Brian Campbell. While I’m confident Mike Weber can finally replace Jay McKee, I ask myself why it is taking Mr. Regher so long to replace his players. Mr. Regeir, you can redeem yourself NOW!!!
And now you have my team by team analysis of players who may be available for the Sabres to get either through free agency or trades:
Center – Saku Koivu – One of my favorite players of all time happens to be available once again this year. Koivu was the main man I wanted the Sabres to target last year. While even though he aged one more year and even though my desire to see him play for the Sabres isn’t as high as it once was, I would love to see him manning the third line next year. He provides Drury-like leadership and play. He would also make Craig Rivet more comfortable as the captain and leader because now his best friend would help him control a team with some young players who will need more guidance from veterans instead of players like Derek Roy or Tim Connolly. I expect to see him get around the same money he got last year at 3.25, because he put up decent numbers with 19 goals and 52 points, while averaging second-line minutes with the Ducks. Considering him and Matt Cullen are the two best centers available now in free agency, many teams will be going after Saku. Sabres might have an edge in signing him because of Rivet. Koivu is the perfect third line center, allowing Goose to go back to the fourth line.
Right Wing – Teemu Selanne – Unfortunately Teemu isn’t going to follow Saku to another team if he decides to return for another season. Teemu will either stay with Ducks or retire. But I would love him for a one year run at the cup and he would fill a void at right wing. No chance it will happen though, sorry.
Defense – Aaron Ward – Former Hurricane will be on the market, but to keep it short and sweet, we don’t need him in Buffalo. Montador fills his role perfectly.
Possible trade bait includes Joffrey Lupul, James Wisniewski, and Steve Eminger. Lupul isn’t worth his contract, Wisniewski is a nice D-man but not what I’m looking for the Sabres, and Eminger isn’t needed as Rivet and Monty fill the 5 and 6 spots on the blue-line next year.
I would have loved if the Sabres tried to acquire Ryan Whitney last year from the Ducks, but it didn’t happen.
Left Wing – Vyacheslav (Slava) Kozlov – Yea never mind, let’s move on from this guy. All Buffalo fans should remember what a jerk he was to the Sabres.
Right Wing – Maxim Afinogenov – My man Max is available once again and after getting a terrible one year deal worth just 800,000 thousand, he is due for a nice raise. Max will never come back to Buffalo because of Lindy Ruff, but he should get near 3 mil. once again in a new deal because of his great season. Many teams will be interested this time around. But it depends on the system you want in order for Max to succeed.
Right Wing – Colby Armstrong – A tough and rugged third line forward who can also provide some timely goals as well. He never advanced to the next level in Atlanta but that might be because he wasn’t in the right situation. His best years came with the Penguins with Crosby. Kind of like Nathan Horton, put him in a hockey environment and you will see an improvement. I expect Pitt to get him back though and really Mike Grier fills the third line role perfectly, especially when it counts. Having Pat Kaleta on the rise helps as well, as he might develop into a third line guy himself.
Defense – Pavel Kubina – A solid all around D-man who has been around for a while now and is coming off a contract worth 5 mil a season. He never lived up to expectations in Toronto after winning the Cup with the Lightning. He does have a great shot and can play over 20 a game (38 points this year). I’m not sure though how many years he may be looking for and at the age of 33, I would be very cautious giving him more than two years at around 3.5 maybe less. He might just be a Spacek with size and in the end I would rather Darcy go after someone else for that kind of money. Buffalo is rumored to have interest though, none the less.
Goalie – Johan Hedberg – The Moose is a free agent and will be a solid back-up option on the market. He is getting up there in age but he still led the Thrashers in wins and gaa. He went 21-16-6 with a 2.62 gaa. Not bad at all. He is an option behind Ryan Miller if he doesn’t retire. He could be a one year fix until Enroth is ready.
As far as trades are, Ron Hainsey could be had, but no one will take on his stupid contract.
Right Wing – Mark Reechi - It seems like Reechi will never score less than 40 points in a year. He truly is Mr. consistent and is a great ingredient to a team looking for the final pieces to win the Cup. At 42 years old, he provides leadership, experience, and even some clutch production. When it counts, this guy is always there. He won’t be asking for anything more than 2 mil. for one year and really is better off just staying in Boston. If he hits the market, the Sabres should check in. But just to check in and only that, we need more then Mark Reechi who wouldn’t help the size issue at all.
Center – Steve Begin – Nothing more than a gritty depth forward and honestly, McCormick would do fine in that role. It would be funny though if this guy did become a Sabre after all (He was a Sabre but never played a game because he was traded to us along with Chris Drury, but never resigned).
Right Wing – Miroslav Satan – The devil will not be back in Buffalo because it would just be like going backwards with this team. We moved on a while ago and while he did hurt the Sabres in the playoffs, I wouldn’t expect to see the same next year. Someone will take a stab though this year, instead of making Miro wait until the middle of the season like last year.
Defense – Andrew Ference – A D-man who is past his early success and is now decreasing in play every year. Just 8 points this year and a dreadful playoff may force Andrew to wait a while until someone will even offer him a contract. He used to be a solid D-man with Calgary though, so maybe someone could revive his career at the age of 31. No thanks to this idea.
As far as trades go, Boston will be active already acquiring Nate Horton from the Panther s. Savard, Wheeler (who is awesome imo), and Thomas might all be trade bait. Boston won’t trade with the rival Sabres though, even though they might strike a deal with their other rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Torres to the Leafs is a no brainer. What a loser.
Mair and Ellis – One might be re-signed, probably Ellis. McCormick is the better option of them all though.
Lydman and Hank are gone and will get around 3 mil. each.
Lalime will be forced to retire.
Center/Lw – Chris Higgins – The forward, who was once a tremendous asset to the Habs in his young career, has really been disappointing with stints in New York (Rangers) and in Calgary. He is still young though at 27, but why did his numbers decrease so dramatically over the past two years. He wore the assistant captain with Montreal but I don’t really think he ever matured into who they wanted him to be. He is a risky but a cheap and versatile option in the 1.5-2.5 mil range. He wouldn’t be a bad pickup for the Sabres, but there are others out there at forward who I would rather go after.
Right Wing – Jamal Mayers – This former Leaf is a great fourth line winger, but offensively gives less than the Sabres two main Right Wing grinders in Mike Grier or Pat Kaleta. Good for a team lacking a Mike Grier type of presence though.
Center – Craig Conroy – This aging vet is getting up there in age (38) and doesn’t provide the necessities to be a solid number three center anymore. If you want to role three great lines and one checking/energy line, then you better pass on Conroy.
Goalie – Vesa Toskala – Coming off that big 4 mil contract, Vesa will be looking for a back-up role. Not with the Sabres though and good thing.
As far as trades go, the Flames might be someone you see trading with the Sabres. They could really use Derek Roy or Tim Connolly, if we could convince them that they are actually the perfect number one center for Jarome Iginla. Ian White, who is a RFA might be someone dealt or even the expensive Robyn Regehr, who is decreasing in production might be available as well. Both are very very solid D-men. I would take Ian White in a heartbeat. Corey Sarich is also available, but the former Sabre won’t have any offers because of his hefty 3.6 mil deal with 2 years remaining. I would love to have Matt Stajan or Rene Bourque, but both were locked up to long term deals. Daymond Langkow will be shopped but his hefty 4.5 mil salary will be very hard to move at his age and with his decreasing production. The Flames will be an interesting team to watch after handing out the big contract to Jay-Bo last year.
Left Wing – Ray Whitney – One of the hottest commodities at the past trade deadline, is now free at last to go anywhere he is offered. This time Whitney will actually be wearing a different uniform during the push for the playoffs. He is as solid as solid gets. He rarely makes major mistakes and provides leadership, Stanley Cup experience, and a ton of offense as well. He has proven to be a clutch scorer, especially during both of the Hurricanes cup runs. Against Boston in 2009, he was absolutely huge. That makes me smile right there. But he is 38 and he should be looking for a pricey 3-4 year deal. If I’m Darcy, I definitely would try to see how flexible Whitney is because 3 or four years at 4 mil. for a 42 year old might get too pricey and risky down the line. Even though he is still a great player, I would probably stay away from Ray, just because I do see a decent decrease in production in this up-coming year.
Defense – Brian Pothier – A nice comeback story. Will probably come cheap for a team looking for a number 5 D-man. Is really solid in many aspects of the game. No thank you though; many better options for what the Sabres are looking for.
I highly doubt anyone wants Rod Brind’Amour these days, but ya never know in the NHL. There are some crazy Gm’s out there. Yea Glenn Sather, I’m taking to you! Could someone take Joni Pikanen or Tim Gleason though? Possibly even Erik Cole? If I’m the Sabres, I would definitely give Jim Rutherford a call about Joni and Gleason. Both are really great defenseman. Both would come with a big asking price though of prospects and picks. Chad LaRose is a nice player with one more year left on his contract. Tuomo Ruutu is a nice player that could possibly be moved for the right price. But it isn’t likely. Everyone but Eric Staal, Cam Ward, and Jussi Jokinen is tradable.
Chicago Blackhawks – Cap Hell
Center – John Madden – A nice third-fourth line center, who doesn’t give much offensively and really never has. The former 2001 Selke winner will be a nice addition to a contending team. He will come cheaper then what he made this year at 2.75. I don’t want him in blue and gold though. Goose is fine for my fourth line.
Right Wing – Adam Burish – A tough mother at the fourth line wing position for the Cup champs is an agitator to the fullest. He may one day be able to play in a third line role. Should get a nice 1 mil raise because he is the kind of player you need come playoff time. He is an option for Buffalo, but not really a major need. Toughness would be added though. Would also make for an interesting Philly-Buffalo matchup with Pronger as his rival. I honestly could see him ending up right next to Pronger though with Philly.
Defense – Kim Johnsson – A defenseman who has been all but forgotten about it seems. Will get a major decrease in salary this season. He isn’t a bad defenseman though and wouldn’t be a bad pickup for cheap. He is past his prime now and I would consider, but definitely not jump to sign him.
Defense – Nick Boynton – No thanks, once a nice pick-up, now a 5th D-man at best .
The Blackhawks are trying to rescue themselves from cap hell. So far they have done a nice job sending Big Buff, Sopel, and Eager to Atlanta. Ladd and Versteeg might be next to go. Patrick Sharp is the one guy I wanted the most, but it looks like he will be going nowhere. Hjalmarsson is an RFA and is expected to get some major bucks after having a post-season to remember. He is truly a beast and would fit oh so perfectly next to Myers. Probably a pipe dream though, considering Chicago is doing a nice job with their cap problems so far. Niemi will be given a nice contract, while poor Huet will be shipped to the minors.
Left Wing – Darcy Tucker- Remember the guy that everyone hated? He hurt Jochen Hecht intentionally one game in the 2005-06 season. Well he is available again. This time don’t expect there to be as much interest. He is still a “tough guy,” but won’t get close to 40 points again. His value has decreased, but every team can use a guy like him. It’s hard to believe he once was a force on the power play. Times have certainly changed as he is now 35 years old and had just 40 points in his two years with the Avs. They are sorry they ever gave him that two-year deal.
Right Wing – Marek Svatos – Anyone remember this guy? What a shame his early career has been. First in his rookie season after the lockout he scores 32 goals and was up in the class with Sid, Ovie, Miller, Henrik Lundquist, Dion, and Thomas Vanek. Now he can’t even break the 10 goal plateau? What has happened to the player he was at 23 years old. Did he seriously get worse? No, the problem is,….. he is the problem. He is his own problem .He is a head case and needs the right coach and players around him to succeed. Still so young though at 27, someone will take a shot on the often injured forwards, hoping he can regain his glory once again. He is too small to even consider adding to the wings on the Buffalo Sabres though.
Center – Stephen Yelle – Nothing more than an extra forward with experience and leadership.
Defense – Brett Clark – A poor man’s defensive defenseman is the right way to put it. A great shot blocker, but is a give-away machine. Benched by Joe Sacco in the playoffs. Not the type of guy we need. Bring up Weber please.
Defense – Ruslan Salei – Another defensive defenseman, who isn’t terrible, but nothing great either. Had three really solid seasons in a row though, before he missed most of this past season with injury. Maybe, but probably not.
Milan Hejduk, Scott Hannan, and John-Michael Liles are all possibilities on the trade front. Hejduk and Hannan are both entering their final year of their expensive contracts. Ryan Miller’s best friend might be a great addition for the Sabres, as the power play D-man would be a welcome man on Buffalo’s back end. A couple of seasons ago, there was much speculation that we would go after Liles in free agency. We never had the chance though because Liles re-up’d in Colorado. Liles was reportedly in Joe Sacco’s dog house this season before turning things around into a nice end of the year and playoff. He still might be moved.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Nothing as far as free agency goes available
R.J. Umberger would be a great addition to any team, but isn’t being shopped at all. The right deal could move him though. It all depends on what you’re giving up. Klesla is a solid D-man and long-time Jacket who just signed a cheap 2.9 mil per year deal. He could be moved though and in 2009 was rumored to be coming back to Buffalo for Tim Connolly at the trade deadline. Not likely, but definitely worth looking into. Might it in well next to Myers.
Center – Mike Modano – A great American veteran who has seen his better days go by him. Not going to make a major impact and it is unknown if he will actually leave Dallas and play at least one more year. Nothing to get excited about though, as he is less than half the player he once was. Would he even come to Buffalo? Probably not, but I would check in just in case. He might fit ok into a third line role.
Right Wing – Jere Lehtinen – A defensive minded winger who has also seen his best days go by. I would be interested if he provided a little more offensively but it just isn’t there anymore. I will have to say no to this one but he will fit in great with New Jersey?
Goalie – Marty Turco – Really had a tough year last year. Isn’t a great starter anymore. Will he settle for a back-up role? He might have to and Buffalo could be the place where he ends up if he takes a significant pay decrease. I would rather take my chances with Biron or Ellis though.
Goalie – Alex Auld – Always liked him – Sabre killer – but not a great back-up right now.
Dallas is another team that I can see the Sabres making a deal with. Brad Richard and Mike Ribeiro are both possibilities. Ribeiro (only 19 goals though and 53 points at 5 mil for 3 more years) is really who the Stars want to move though because of his longer contract and with the ownership situation they have, it makes sense. Richards only has one more year left on his contract at 7.8 mil. The right deal could send Richards packing to some lucky team. Buffalo is a possibility and with 91 points and a Conn Smyth Trophy at a young age, we might have actually found the number one center we have been looking for. He is the total package and would be huge for the Sabres organization. Morrow, Ott, Robidas, and Daley are all nice players. The chances of them or James Neal/Jamie Benn being moved are little to none.
GIVE ME RICHARDS PLEASE! Roy, Stafford, Persson, and a first for Daley and Richards We shall see
Detroit Red Wings
Center – Jason Williams – A career disappointment who has never been able to succeed at a higher level like we once thought he might be able to. Cost the Wings in the playoffs with poor play. No thanks to Jason right now. Not what we need. Hopefully he can get his career back on track because he could eventually be a great number 3 center.
Left Wing – Kirk Maltby – If you’re desperate.
Defenseman – Brett Lebda and Andrej Lija – Both are actually decent defenseman. Lebda isn’t a great top 6 six D-man though, but he gives you depth and experience. A very poor man’s Corvo for comparisons. Lija, the Swede has learned from the best of em’ in Detroit, but he isn’t very productive. A poor man’s Tallinder.
I wouldn’t mind the Sabres trying to acquire Darren Helm. This would make me very excited as Darren Helm has third line center written all over him. I really enjoy watching him play. He is an RFA, so it will be interesting to see if any one offers him a sheet. Reminds of the Kesler situation a few years back.
Right Wing – Fernando Pisani – Another nice third line winger who is tough, rugged, gritty, etc; etc. Nothing more than some valuable leadership and toughness. Is a lead by example kind of guy. Probably will never get close to the 18 goals he scored in 2005-06. Would be a great addition if he brought anything to the table offensively. Players like him will be hard pressed to find jobs though because teams would rather have their younger players come up for cheap and have them man the third and fourth lines, then bring in someone who is so offensively challenged.
Center – Mike Comrie – Is a free agent again!!!!!! But I don’t like what he brings. Too much of the same we already have. Inconsistent, hence why no one will lock him up long term. No thank you, but someone will sign him for more then he deserves because of the lack of center position in free agency this year.
Dustin Penner would be an awesome addition to the Sabres, however the price would be steep and I’m not 100 percent sure Edmonton will even consider moving him. Ethan Moreau is a possibility for some teams, as the team captain is one of the best leaders in the league. Andrew Cogliano can be considered a bust so far and might be moved. Buffalo really liked Cogliano and almost sent Max Afinogenov to Edmonton a couple years back to get him. He has been disappointing though so far though, so I don’t think he is worth it. High upside though. Sheldon Souray wants out and could be the power play D-man we need. I like Souray and even though his contract is huge, I would consider a trade for the right price. But he won’t consider coming to Buffalo, so never mind. Maybe New York, but his situation could get sticky forcing Edmonton to hold on to the pricey offensive D-man. Hemsky, Horcoff, Brule, and O’Sullivan can be had for the right price as well. Definitely a team in flux right now.
Nothing as far as free agents go besides Kamil Kreps who doesn’t provide anything we already don’t have. Former Amerk will either stay in Florida or possibly even go back to Europe.
As far as trading goes, the Panthers, and Dale Tallon will be plenty busy on draft day. Cory Stillman could be an interesting veteran to acquire for many teams. He still seems to produce a good amount with 15 goals and 37 points coming in 58 games with the Panthers. His cap hit for one year is quite high though to add at 3.53 mil. Cory Stillman still plays top 6 minutes averaging 17 minutes again, but the question will be if he can keep up for another hole year at the age of 36. Stephen Weiss and Keith Ballard (drafted by Sabres in 2002) will be interesting commodities for potential suitors such as the Leafs, etc. Weiss will most likely cost the most to get because he’s only 27 and is coming off back to back seasons with 61 and 60 points scored. This past season saw his goal totals increase from 14 to 28. He is very affordable though at just over 3 mil. for 3 more years. Sabres might look into acquiring Weiss, but I just don’t see it happening. Weiss is similar to Roy and Connolly though, so unless one of them is dealt for a D-man, I don’t see Weiss being plugged into the third line center position. Not exactly sure how well he would excel in that role. It honestly takes a rare player such as Drury to be able to produce enough points and still play against the other team’s best players. Ballard, McCabe, and Bryan Allen are all D-man who will definitely get some looks at with Ballard being the most likely to get traded. He did have a disappointing year, but let’s not forget this guy was on his way to being a 40 point D-man right after the lockout before some surrounding issues kicked in. Could he excel with a team that is actually competitive? I don’t think he is really a true power play guy, but he does give solid minutes. I would pass on him though. McCabe is great on the backend and is now the Panthers captain. His cap hit would be high for next season though. He will most likely stay put. Allen is one of my favorite D-man and he is definitely some I could see Darcy making a play for. His contract is just under 3 mil. for the next two years and he would bring a similar game to what Rivet is supposed to do. Steven Reinprecht is one of the most underrated players in the league and he would be a nice addition. He might excel in the third line role. Dvorak could be dealt as well. Dale Tallon will be very busy for sure. Vokoun might even be dealt, WOW!
Left Wing - Fredrick Modin – Just one you think Modin won’t be able to find a job this summer, he has a tremendous post-season with the Kings. Honestly one of their most solid contributors in their 6 playoff games with 3 goals (more than any Sabre). Still with just 11 points in 44 games with Columbus, Modin’s pay will drop to about 1 mil. per year. Will probably play a role similar to Miro Satan in this up-coming season. No thank you though; I don’t need your services in Buffalo.
Left Wing – Alexander Frolov – Another disappointing season for Frolov came at the wrong time with him being a free agent. Usually players have their best year in contract years, but with Fro it’s the exact opposite. The man who had 71 points in 2006-07, had just 51 this past season. His goal total dropped from 32 to 19 even though he played in 4 more games this season. Russians are too risky these days in the NHL. Not too many can survive under NHL coaches such as Lindy Ruff. Sabres will almost definitely pass on Frolov because for one he is too inconsistent, and for another; since this free agency class is so weak, he will be overpaid. Great potential still in the right situation with his prime year’s right ahead of him at the age of 28.
Center – Jeff Halpern – I was once interested in Jeff Helpern, but now I see him as nothing more than a great fourth line center. Gaustad fits that role even better. I need a little more production out of Halpern if he is going to be my number 3 center. Will be signed by some contending team though.
Defense – Sean O’Donnell – Veteran back end defensive defenseman who is really getting up there in age. The former Cup champion with the Ducks back in 2007 will find a job similar to what Montador does for the Sabres. There is no doubt that the Sabres aren’t interested though. Montador is one of the best bottom pair D-men in the league imo.
Kings might have some interest in Derek Roy with Patty Marleau being off the market now. Dustin Brown or Jack Johnson would be a great addition to the Sabres. Doubtful it will happen though. Michael Handzus fills the third line perfectly for the Kings, but for 4 mil. against the cap this year, he is way too pricey. Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds are two of my favorites, but I don’t see any of them being moved.
Right Wing – Owen Nolan – Oh what a veteran this man is. Former Sharks captain is a born leader and grinder. With 33 points this past year, I’m not sure he provides anything more than what Mike Grier brings to the table. Won’t get much money, but will have plenty of interest.
Right Wing – Petr Sykora – No thank you, that’s all.
Left Wing – Derek Boogard – One of the toughest men in the NHL. He is an absolute beast. Wouldn’t look bad on a line next to Goose and Kaleta. At 6’8, he has quite impressive size, but with two career goals in 5 NHL seasons, he isn’t going to give you anything up front. The poor guy hasn’t scored in four years. PASS please, Mancari even gives way more.
Defense – Shane Hnidy – Will wait a while until he can find a job. It might not be in the NHL though. 7th D-man at best.
Andrew Brunette is a very good trade option if Minny is willing to deal him. He only makes 2.33 mil. and still produces 61 points IN MINNESOTA! What a great veteran player he is and what a nice addition he would be for a second line. He could move Jochen back down to third line left wing. If they didn’t ask for Kassian, I would look into Brunette for sure. Cal Clutterbuck is an RFA. If I’m Minny though, I keep him because guys like he and Kaleta are not very easy to find. Brent Burns might be traded. I always liked his potential. Overpaid at a young age though. Still a pp D-man?
Center – Dominic Moore – Been there and tried that. It didn’t work out, even though I wish we would have tried for at least one more year. He is a decent third line forward and will be signed a lot faster than last off-season. Probably wouldn’t want to come back though.
Center – Glenn Metropolit – After being claimed on waivers from the Flyers two years ago, Metro had a nice season tallying 16 goals and 29 points. He will still find room in the NHL for his knack of scoring timely goals. A real nice fourth line center. Not talented enough to be a third line center a good team though.
Defense – Paul Mara – Really declining since a great 2005-06 campaign with the Coyotes. Unfortunately for him, 2006 was a while ago. He won’t have much interest at all and might be looking to Europe for a spot.
After signing Thomas Plekanec, Montreal’s off-season got a lot more “boring.” So far I do have to commend them in their moves. Plekanec is one of my favorite players and would have been my top target this off-season for the Sabres. Imagine a power play genius, who can shut down the best forwards, and is just now entering the prime of his career. That is Plekanec for ya. I also give strong amends for keeping Price over Halak because even though Halak was the man for the Habs this past season, I still believe Price will be the better goalie this year, and for years to come. A much cheaper option for now as well.
Goalie – Dan Ellis – My favorite goalie on the market will probably find a starting gig. Maybe with the Flyers. I would love to see him back up Ryan Miller though. Would solve the back-up problem right away. Might make Enroth expendable as a prospect as well.
Hornqvist had a great year and is an RFA. He will make around 4 mil. a year. WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE J.P. Dumont back to the Sabres?!?!?! I certainly would. He is the one guy besides Drury that I miss the most. Jason Arnott would have been nice. But he was a pricey one year option that we passed on. Hopefully there will be a better player in the fold for the Sabres in a trade anyways.
New Jersey Devils
Left Wing - Ilya Kovalchuk – Top player on the market, who is a superstar for sure. He isn’t the kind of player that would fit in Lindy Ruff’s system though and that is why we passed on him at the trade deadline. Will be asking for upwards of 8 mil. a year. Will not be a Buffalo Sabre. Total pipe dream! Maybe a King though with Patty Marleau off the market.
Center/Lw - Rob Niedermayer – One was my favorite players is getting up there in age. With his bro retiring, Rob may not be far away either. I would have had interest in him two years ago, but know he will sign somewhere cheap to provide depth, and Stanley Cup experience. Isn’t even a good third liner anymore.
Defense – Paul Martin – One of the top D-men on the market and one of the best American defenseman as well. He was hurt in case you’re wondering why he didn’t play for team USA. This guy is very consistent and reliable. I really can’t see Uncle Lou letting him go though. He might not be a long term fix for the power play and he might not be that physical defensive defenseman you so desire, but he is one of the best all around D-men in the league. Will be looking for slightly more money, probably around 4.5.
Defense – Mike Mottau – Former Hobey Baker winner is another cheap option for a team looking for D depth. Won’t give you too much though. I still like him though and would at least check in, if we run tight on money/salary cap room.
Acquired Jason Arnott
New York Islanders
Left Wing – Jon Sim and Right Wing Richard Park – Quality fourth line forwards who will come very cheap and won't being wearing Blue or Gold in Buffalo.
Defense – Freddy Meyer – Always liked his potential, but isn’t needed on a team with Chris Butler, and Andrej Sekera already underachieving.
Goalie – Martin Biron – Our old buddy Marty is available Again. This time Buffalo will actually give him some respect. I expect Marty to come quite cheap unless a team like Montreal swoops in to offer him more than we are willing to spend on another goalie. I would say around the same as Grier money at 1.4 a year. Probably would only get a one year deal, unless Enroth is moved at the draft.
The Islanders have two players I would love to try and acquire. One is Forward Trent Hunter. If there was ever the perfect forward for the Buffalo Sabres, Trent Hunter is that guy. He gives size, grit, and actually does all the things we want Stafford to do. Doesn’t have great offensive potential, but could give 20 goals in a good year. Third line/checking line wingman. He is signed at a decent 2 mil. a year for 3 more years.
The one power play D-man I want the most in the league is MARK STREIT. The Swiss-born D-man is just solid as a rock. Being a former forward in all, he produces great numbers, and has a booming shot from the point. We should have gone after him when he was a free agent two years ago. We would be lucky if the Islanders even considered trading him. He doesn’t lack defensively what Campbell and Kaberle do, yet he still can put up nearly 50 points at age 32. Even though he is getting older, he may just be entering his prime years as this will be only his fifth full season of NHL play and third as a full-time D-man. Captained Switzerland at the Olympics and was one of the best D-men in the tourney. I love Swiss defenseman. Luca Sbisa and Yannick Weber are the next two great ones.
New York Rangers
Center – Olli Jokinen – The Finnish-born center man was once considered to be a star in the NHL when he played for the Florida Panthers. He was a top ten center man and has gone from one of the hottest commodities to a very risky free agent. He will be passed on by many other teams. I however, believe Olli might be the steal of the free agent class. Let’s face it; Olli will not make more than 4 mil. on the open market. In a terrible year, he had 50 points. I just am not sure that Lindy would be able revive his career though, so he would have to come around 3 mil. for no more than 3 years for me to even think about it. Very doubtful, but we used to always be interested come deadline time when his name popped up.
Left Wing – Vaclav Prospal – He is a free agent for another season believe it or not. After being bought out by Tampa Bay and signed for cheap by the Rangers, Vinny had a decent year. In fact, he was one of the most reliable Rangers with 58 points. While he is getting older at 35, he does offer some versatile, and is almost a guarantee for 40 points.
Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are due for major raises. Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival have two of the worst contract in all of the NHL, but the Rangers will have to somehow find a way to lock both Dan and Marc up long term. If they can’t Girardi might be shopped. I do like his game a lot and I think he will continue to improve into a quality top-4 D-man. Now Chris Drury is still a Ranger, but since he was my favorite player, and even though he is overpaid by over 3 million dollars per year; I can’t resist the temptation of possibly acquiring Dru back. I know he isn’t what he used to be, but put him back into the position he was comfortable here, and watch him tally 25 goals and over 50 points again. If Scott Gomez can be traded, anyone can. The only way this happens is if Pominville is sent back to New York in a trade. Drury would only make 2 mil. more than Pommer and would provide a lot of things I feel we are missing up front. His horrid contract does only last for two more years, so it isn’t like it will stranglehold us for when Myers and Ennis contracts are up. I know it will not happen, but if this miracle did happen; I would be the happiest person in the world. Defenseman and college gem Matt Gilroy could be moved as well.
Center – Matt Cullen – Two-way player that has really impressed me over the last two years. Seems to becoming more valuable as he gets older. Could fit into a third-line center hole perfectly. Decent on face-offs and decent physically. Doesn’t really have one weak spot in his game anymore. Having a nice playoff for the Sens as their number 2 center will make him a wanted man on July 1st. 16 goals and 48 points in 81 regular season games between Ottawa and Carolina and at the age of 33, Cullen steps up in pressure situations. 8 points in 6 playoff games this past year and he does have a Stanley Cup ring. Cullen is one of the top three centers remaining in the free agency pool. He will get over 3 mil. a year.
Defense – Anton Volchenkov – The best D-man on the market come July 1st will rack up the big bucks. He is one of the best shot blockers in the NHL right now and in his era to tell the truth. There is no doubt he will be overpaid, but I guarantee the team that signs him will love him either way. He is a top pairing shut-down man who would fit perfectly next to T. Myers. He will be looking for over 5 mil. a year though, so he will be out of our range if we want to upgrade at the forward position as well.
Spezza could be dealt out west, but a deal isn’t very likely to happen.
Right Wing – Arron Asham – Impressive in the playoffs and really did a nice job for the Flyers. I would hold on to him if I were Philly. If not, he will end up signing for around 1 mil. a year somewhere else. Not sure if I would pursue him yet. Not convinced, even though he was excellent against the Habs and Hawks.
Defense – Lukas Krajicek – Solid bottom pairing man that is forced out of Philly because they already have so many other quality D-men.
Defense – Dan Hamhuis – Will he sign or will he go? I believe he goes to Vancouver.
Goalie – Michael Leighton – The Cinderella performance of the 2010 playoffs might find a nice back-up role somewhere this off-season. The former Sabre might be an option for the back-up spot in Buffalo, but I wouldn’t count on him being as reliable as he was for Philly for most of the year. If Miller, God-forbid ever got injured, Leighton would be an interesting option now. He will come quite cheap as well.
Carter will be looked at and it will be interesting to see if he is actually moved. Buffalo does like him, but unless Miller is going back, I don’t see a deal. Therefore I don’t see a deal lol!
Center – Matt Lombardi – A great two-way youngster, who is about to enter the prime of his career. Blazing speed makes him unstoppable at times. His two-way game really shows us all that he gets it. This kid can really play and I bet Calgary regrets ever letting him go. He is what I wish Roy would be more like as a player. That statement is funny though, considering Roy has racked up more points than Lombardi by a good amount. But to me it isn’t just about points. I want my players to be good all-around. Lombardi had a career high in points with 53, but only has cracked the 20 goal plateau once. He is getting better and better, while finding his way/niche in the NHL. The sky is the limit to this forward that is 28 years old and has played for 8 years now. It took him a while to be the player he is and know he will get around 3 mil. per year in a nice long-term deal this off-season. One of the top four centers on the market now.
Right Wing – Lee Stempniak –Hometown kid, who had a very strong finish with the Coyotes last year. He will probably go back to more of a hockey city once again though. The Sabres should look into Stempniak as a possibility, but in the end, I would rather pass on this hometown product simply because I think we can do better. I also do believe he will get around the same contract. Is he a second line winger though? If not, I have trouble putting him on my third line.
Defense – Derek Morris – Just stay in Phoenix for goodness sake.
Defense – Zbynek Michalek – Another D-man who is known for his strong shot blocking abilities. He and Anton are two of the rare European/Russian defensive defenseman. He might want to sign with his brother in Ottawa. If not, someone will give him a ton of money. Probably looking in the 4 mil. range. Might get a Beauchemin type of deal. Is great and would replace Lydman, but I will take my chances with Weber who is cheaper, and younger.
Right Wing - Alexei Ponikarovsky – Russian forward with size. No interest from the Sabres though. No interest from me either. I didn’t like him in Toronto and I don’t like him now either. Nashville might sign him though.
Right Wing – Bill Guerin – Vet who still might have a year or two left in the tank. He should really just stay in Pitt. Still can put up 20 goals and 45 points. We all know that those numbers are blown up because of Sid and Malkin. Maybe, but we need more then the vet Guerin. Is a nice piece though for a Cup team.
Left Wing – Ruslan Fedotenko – Still in the NHL? Yes, but maybe not for too much longer. Good defensively for a Russian. Experience and clutch scoring might just keep him in the league.
Defense – Sergei Gonchar – PP qb that lacks a good defensive game. Will fit in good with a team who can surround him with big names up front, similar to Pitt. San Jose is a possibility. His lack of defense turns me and the Buffalo Sabres away from consideration in the Gonchar sweepstakes. Still played great in the playoffs though. Wouldn’t be mad if we took a stab at him, maybe shocked though.
Defense – Mark Eaton – I like him a lot as a cheap depth pickup. Maybe not for the Sabres, but for another team. Good all-around. Kind of like Mottau.
San Jose Sharks
Centers – Manny Malholtra and Scott Nichol – Third and fourth line centers. Malholtra is an interesting option for the third line. Would he give more though then Gaustad does? Nichol isn’t coming back and thank goodness. Good on face-offs, but a total jerk.
Defensemen – Niclas Wallin and Jay Leach – Solid depth, but nothing more.
Goalie – Evgeni Nabokov – Great goalie, who never seems to rise to the occasion. I like what San Jose has done so far. Let’s see if they can keep the good moves going.
St. Louis Blues
Left Wing – Paul Kariya – Veteran with experience. On the decline, but still might be able to man your second line adding 40 points. Not what Buffalo needs though, too fragile. Maybe back to the Ducks?
Left Wing – Keith Tkachuk – Still solid and tough, but offensively declining for sure. If we are desperate for a veteran left wing, then he will be an option. Not what I want though.
Defenseman - Carlo Colaiacovo and Mike Weaver – Potential break through pp man? Maybe but doubtful. Sekera is similar and better defensively. Weaver is solid and if we need another D-man for cheap, then he would be a great quick fix. A plus 10 with the Blues last year.
Goalie – Chris Mason – Top three goalie on the market. Starter, looking for starter money.
David Backes, David Perron (RFA), and Brad Boyes will all garner some interest with Boyes being the most likely to be dealt. I would love to get the first two. Boyes is a tad bit pricey though for what he did this past season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Left Wing – Alex Tanguay – Continues to decline every year. Liked him in Colorado, but haven’t liked him since. So inconsistent and truly makes your head hurt when you look at his stats. NO THANK YOU.
Defenseman – David Hale and Kurtis Foster – I like Kurtis Foster a whole lot. Over 40 points with 23 pp assists last season in a major comeback season after suffering a near-career ending injury. I always liked him and wished we went after him last season. We will have the opportunity to get him once again. I will admit though that for 6’5, he is quite soft. Hale isn’t bad but isn’t anything special either.
Goalie - Antero Niittymaki – NA, other options which are better for this team.
I would love to acquire Ryan Malone, but I don’t think they want to trade him yet.
Toronto Maple Leafs
No one worth talking about
No Kaberle for me
Center/Wing – Pavol Demitra – Still quite versatile at 35 years old, but doesn’t give you what he used to. Nice veteran player. It all depends on what he is looking for, money wise. Under 3 mil. and we might have a conversation?
Centers/Wingers – Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Johnson – Third and fourth line players that I would consider but probably look past in the end. Wellwood has had a nice little career since leaving Toronto.
Defense – Willie Mitchell – Tough as nails D-man that is a born leader. I would love to have him, but he will probably elect to re-sign elsewhere.
Defensemen – Shane O’Brien (26 years old) and Brad Lukowich – SOB is young/big and I would definitely see what he is asking for. Lukowich won’t be on my radar though.
If only Ryan Kesler didn’t sign! Kevin Bieksa might be available. He is a terrific all-around D-man with great toughness. Salary is near 4 mil. a year though and he’s signed only though next season.
Centers – Eric Belanger and Brandon Morrison - I love Belanger’s game and I was one of the biggest supporters to acquire him at the deadline last year. He brings a little of everything to the table and could be a quality third-line center who comes cheap. Great on face-offs as well. Morrison is a possibility but I would rather have his teammate.
Right Wing – Scott Walker – Not productive enough at this point in his career. PASS
Defensemen – Joe Corvo, Shaone Morrisonn, and Milan Jurcina – Corvo is a potential pp guy. But can he regain the form he had with Ottawa and Carolina for three seasons. I like him and would like to see how much he is asking for. Corvo can play big time minutes. Morrisonn is a bigger D-man and might be considered for a defensive defenseman spot in the Buffalo line-up. For no more than 2 mil. though imo. Jurcina had a nice little season playing in the Olympics, etc. but he’s still way too inconsistent.
Goalie – Jose Theodore – Will want to start, but will someone give him another chance. Maybe a back role would suit him best though. Sabres are a long shot because he would have to come cheap and at a significant drop-off from his last contract.
Semin or Fleischmann could be dealt. I have always like David Steckel, Boyd Gordon, and Eric Fehr. Fehr would be the best addition for the Sabres though.
It will be an interesting time no doubt. Many border line 3rd liners and bottom pair D-men out there this year. I am excited to see the Sabres finally come through for you guys. We deserve it!!!!!!!
If you are as obsessed with the NHL as I am, print these out, and use it as your guide. On July 1st, cross-off the players who sign, etc. Put the new teams next to them and then you will know where everyone ends up for the 2010-11 season and beyond.
I put this together in 24 hours, so I apologize if there are any mistakes!