The Buffalo Sabres were on a three year plan – and truly believe in the team they have put together. Three years to win the Stanley Cup.
If this is the team they think they are going to win with, its all or nothing this year, as the team has 11 players in the final year of their contract, led by newcomer Cody Hodgson who started the season with the Rochester Americans and exploded onto the Blue and Gold scene with a three game goal streak.
If Hodgson figures into the future of the team, he will have to be resigned by the Buffalo Sabres – as after this year he becomes a restricted free agent.
Hodgson currently makes 1.67 million a year, and if he continues to be a dominant offensive threat will be due a substantial raise going into next season.
Hodgson is the only forward in the list of eleven that are a necessary part of this team.
Jochen Hecht is on a one year deal – signed through the end of the season. If Hecht thinks he can return next year and he remians injury free this season, I would not be oppposed bringing him on for a year at a time contract – unless there is a guy in Rochester that can play at the league minimum. The role that Hecht plays can easily be filled by a newcomer to Buffalo – or a guy playing in the system somewhere.
John Scott and Matt Ellis are both on single season deals, set to expire at the end of this season. I am very surprised by the Buffalo Sabres holding on to Matt Ellis as long as they have in a Blue and Gold uniform. If they bring him back next year it needs to be in a veteran role in Rochester. The Buffalo Sabres need to return to a time when they could roll four lines out that can put the puck in the net. John Scott can be easily replaced. We have guys that will go toe to toe with others in the league. It’s not a matter of who fills that role, its the matter of team mentality – and the team seems to be grasping that role. Maybe its because Scott’s on the team. Who knows.
On the blue line, there are five players on the roster that have contracts ending this season. Leading the list of blue liners who will be looking for work next season is Robyn Regehr.
Regher was the signal of change for the organization. He was convinced to waive a no trade clause to come to the Nickel City. While he is not as
high profile a player as Chris Drury or Daniel Briere – if he leaves town after his contract, it could signal to other players that Buffalo might not be the place to waive your NTC for. Regehr is also turning into the final days of his career, and we could end up having a Craig Rivetish like conversation with him. With Erhoff on the team, Regehr could be expendable. I would like to see the Buffalo Sabres resign him, but at a discount to his current 4.02 million dollar salary. At 32 – he is a seasoned veteran, but on the decline. Give him one more shot at 3-4 years to retain his services, and by year 3 or 4 his ice time will be severly limited. Not a knock against him, he just plays a rougher type game that will limit his career.
Jordan Leopold will not be on the Buffalo Sabres roster come next year. If the team knows what is good for the future of the organization, Leopold will be allowed to test the free agent market and sign elsewhere.
Alexander Sulzer needs to pull his head out and play with the passion we saw last year. When he came to Buffalo he was nothing more than extra in a trade that was needed to bring Hodgson to town. As the Buffalo Sabres pushed towards trying to make the playoffs, Sulzer was more valuable to the team than Hodgson had become. With Adam Pardy waiting in Rochester, as well as defensive prospects Alex Biega, Mark Pysyk, and Brayden McNabb all waiting their turns for a chance in the dance.
Playing out the final year of his contract in a Buffalo Sabres uniform is Mike Weber. Weber has spent much of his time in a Buffalo Sabres uniform playing under the #freeweber campaign - as he could never, through most of the time no fault of his own – crack the lineup. If I were Mike Weber, I would ask the Buffalo Sabres to not qualify me so that he could test the free agent market.
T.J. Brennan lit the American Hockey League on fire this year, showing the hockey world that he is ready to play with the big kids now. In the final year of his contract, he is also an RFA at the end of this season.
Weber and Brennan get to make their NHL presence known tonight for the first time when they lace them up against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Another addition to the Buffalo Sabres squad via trade was Adam Pardy – brought over in the deletion of Derek Roy from the lineup. Pardy will have to prove alot in Rochester if the Buffalo Sabres are going to grant him a contract extension and allow him to fight for a roster spot next training camp.
Jhonas Enroth is also in the final year of his deal, and will most likely be resigned by the team, as he is only goingn into an RFA status, and the Buffalo Sabres have no immediate replacement for him on the bench as the back up goaltender.