With the full 2012-13 season looking grim, last season may have been the last time that some teams will see several future free agents. For the Buffalo Sabres, there are a few players who will become both UFA and RFA next offseason.
Robyn Regehr. At a $4 million cap hit, Regehr is was the move that signified the changing of the guard in Buffalo. Acquired a year ago at the draft in what I believe is a steal, Chris Butler and Paul Byron for Regehr, Kotalik and a 2nd round pick, Regehr has been a solid stay at home defender and a strong leader for the young defensive corps. I do believe that we will see him back in Buffalo next year, unless Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb really impress.
Jordan Leopold. Leopold is coming to the end of a three year free agent contract with the Sabres. With a $3 million cap hit, and inconsistent play, piled on by fans calling for his trade, I don’t expect to see Regehr’s former and current linemate back as he will be usurped by the young-guns.
Cody Hodgson. Hodgson was the player everyone was hoping for. The big name in the Zack Kassian trade to Vancouver, Hodgson is projected as a future top 2 center and a strong playmaker. Hodgson is coming to the end of his entry level contract, and if he were to play this year would be looking for a raise next offseason. However, if the season is locked out for good, expect the Sabres to tender him an offer to keep his services for another year before offering him a multi-year deal.
Adam Pardy. Part of the Steve Ott/Derek Roy trade, Pardy was more of a salary dump than anything else. I expected him to be a #7, rotate in, defenseman with Mike Weber and Alex Sulzer. Whether there is a season or not, don’t expect him back next year.
Mike Weber. Weber is a bruiser, drafted in the 2nd round in 2006, Weber has been a solid player the past few seasons. He began his NHL career as a sub-in with M.A. Gragnani but has earned himself a spot on the roster with his hard hits. I could see Weber getting a one or two year deal for a little over $1 million, currently making 950,000, as long as he isn’t beaten out by the rookies.
Alexander Sulzer. Following the trade of Gragnani for Sulzer with Vancouver, the German began producing for Buffalo alongside countryman Christian Ehrhoff. No one is sure of the role of Sulzer, but everyone expects him to start this season on the German line. But either way, I am not sure if he will be resigned again next year. His contract is cheap and he might be able to earn a one year extension.
Jhonas Enroth. Enroth was on fire when he signed a two year $675,000 per year contract extension but struggled a bit in his first full season as an NHL back-up. I fully expect him to bounce back if the lockout ends, and I expect him to be resigned next year to another year or two.