Depth is always a good thing. Depth is especially good in the free agent market for a team who is looking for that little extra to make a run in the post season. We will have to try to work within the cap being roughly $8 million beneath the cap on July 1st. Current right wingers on the roster include the captain, Jason Pominville, down, then up, then down, then up again Drew Stafford, Buffalo’s home-boy Patty Kaleta, and raging disappointment Brad Boyes. With Boyes coming off the roster and a 2nd or 3rd line spot opening up, could the Sabres look add another RW to the roster?
This years free agent list for the forwards to the right of the dot is pretty short in terms of skill and star power. Atop the list is Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the old Fin, Teemu Selanne, Jaromir Jagr, and my personal choice for the Sabres, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. Lets start at the top.
Doan is not leaving Phoenix. He has been with the team since they drafted them 7th overall in the 1st round of the 1995 draft as the Winnipeg Jets. He has remained with the team through their ups and downs, including a move to Arizona, and seeing the Yote’s recent success and rise to the top of the West, expect him to resign to a lucrative deal this offseason. Although Jagr has just recently returned to the league and is in great shape, he is still 40 yrs old and does not have many years left. I’m predicting 2, maybe 3 if he has a chance to win the cup. If the Sabres are looking for a “help right now” kind of guy, who will play one or two years with the team then leave, then Jagr could be their guy. In 73 games of his first season back, Jagr tallied 19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points. These are solid numbers for a 40 yr old returning to the fast pace of the NHL for the first time in five years. If the Flyers offer him a contract, then expect him to resign, unless he is offered a deal to the Penguins or Rangers. Another player most likely to stick where he is, is Teemu Selanne. Selanne will be 42 at the start of the free agency period. He has said that he will either play for the Ducks or retire. Unfortunately for Teemu, the Ducks were awful this season, placing 13th in the Western Conference. That means that if he doesn’t believe that Anaheim cannot turn it around and go from worst to first next season, then expect him to hang up the skates. Finally, P.A. Parenteau has my vote for steal of the free agency. Teams can go out and spend $7 million on a guy like Parise and that will be great for any team, but I think a team will be able to get the most out of their dollar if they sign Parenteau. P.A. Is 29 years old and has really come into his own the last two seasons with the Islanders. The Islanders always seem to be at the bottom of the conference(finishing 14 in the East), and the league for that matter. Because of the constant failure of the Isle, P.A. May be looking to move somewhere new, somewhere he can win. He has never played in a single playoff game and at his age, he may be looking to spend the next few years on a playoff contender. In two full seasons he has racked up 82 points with 20 and 18 goals respectively. That is solid production for a second line center on the third lowest scoring team this season(with questionable goaltending). Buffalo may be the perfect place for him to land. He is a solid play making center and if you put him on the Vanek – Hodgson line, then he could really help set Cody set Van up with some scoring chances, while still netting around 20 of his own. His cap hit this past season was $1.25 million and he will most likely be looking for a bit of a raise. If the Sabres like him and want to offer him $2.5-3 million, then I would be ok with that. He would be a welcomed addition compared to Boyes who has done nothing but earn $4 million and Hecht has made $3.5 in the dcotor’s office.
If the Sabres aren’t interested in going into free agency and signing a “star” then they could add to the offense more subtly with the addition of Parenteau. I think back to the Philadelphia Flyers from 2009-2011. In 2009-10, the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup finals with nine players over 15 goals in the season, the following season the Flyers had seven players reach 20 goals. In the same span, Buffalo had only 5 players each season barely pass 15 goals. With the addition of Parenteau, a perennial 20 goal scorer, and the subtraction of someone like Boyes, the team would become better and could be considered more of a contender, while staying below the cap.
What do you think will happen in July?