Free Agency Breakdown: Left Wingers

April 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Zach Parise (9) skates with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

 The Sabres are going into this offseason, not necessarily looking for, but probably wouldn’t mind a new left winger. Currently the left wingers on the roster are everyone’s favorite son Thomas Vanek, over paid and over-valued Ville Leino, solid little guy Nathan Gerbe, up and comer Marcus Foligno, who definitely made his case this season, and anyone Lindy puts on the fourth line, usually Boyes(technically RW). Now none of our true left wingers are coming off the books for years, but Boyes is packing his bags and at the airport as I type.

I feel that no fan would be upset if the Sabres were to chase after one of the top left wing free agents this summer because the top of the list is stacked. However, with only $7.5 million in cap space freeing up, we may need to be choosy, or kick someone out(*cough*roy*cough*)

Topping off the list is the apple of every team’s eye, Zach Parise. Zach is a first line winger and is good for over 30 goals per year and more than 80 points. This would be an amazing add to the roster, since no current Sabre has eclipsed 80 points since Thomas Vanek got 83 points in his second full season in the league. The only detierent stopping the Sabres from possibly grabbing Parise is his price tag. Lindy and Darcy have said they would like to stay around $1-2 million under the cap in case of injuries. Therefore, someone would have to go, someone with a high cap hit, in order to land Parise and his $6+ salary. Aside from the stud atop the charts, the position is deep, containing veteran Ryan Smyth, the streaky and tempermental Alex Semin, up and down Dustin Penner, and potential second liner’s Andrei Kostitsyn, Christian Huselius and Jason Blake. Now Blake is nearing retirement and probably isn’t looking to move his family again. If Teemu Selane resigns for one more year, then its almost a guarantee that Blake sticks with the Ducks for another year as well. Semin is known to not be motivated and tends to be a bit lazy at times. Although he could possibly be a cancer in the locker room, its hard to ignore his stats, with 40 goals and 84 points in 2009 and 79 points in 2008, he has the potential to be a top scorer in the league, as long as he wants to. Ryan Smyth isn’t a top line center but he brings a different aspect to the team, he brings a veteran presence to the locker room and lots of leadership to help the younger players grow. Smyth demanded a trade last season back to the Oilers, from the Kings, claiming that he wanted to retire with his original team in Edmonton. If he isn’t resigned this offseason by the Oilers, I feel he may retire if not given an offer by a cup contender. Dustin Penner of the LA Kings is definitely not worth his $4.25 million salary, averaging only around 45 points the past few years and never coming near his career high of 63 points and 32 goals in 2009.

While the left wingers may be extremely talented and deep at the top, it thins out greatly beyond the top ten players. The Sabres can afford several of these players, but if they really want to make themselves a cup favorite, they will greatly persue Parise, but will have to dump some salary to achieve that goal. If the cap stays as projected for this offseason, then they could easily sign guys like Huselius or Penner or any of the other second line wingers. But Darcy and Lindy will have to discuss at length before the July 1st free agent period, if these players are worth the gamble of paying their high salaries for mediocre play.

What do you think the Sabres should do at the LW position?

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Free Agency, Zach Parise

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