Officially, at 10:53 EDT on Monday June 24th, the countdown clock began. With the Stanley Cup finally being won, the next thing on any puck head’s mind, the draft and the free agent frenzy.
On July 5th, the annual Free Agent Games will commence. And what an off-season it is shaping up to be.
As of right now, the Buffalo Sabres have 9 Restricted Free Agents (RFA) and 7 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) on the market. Jochen Hecht is listed on capgeek.com, but since he has announced his retirement, his mention isn’t worth much.
The teams RFA’s are:
- Cody Hodgson
- Brian Flynn
- Mike Weber
- Matthew Hackett
- Luke Adam
- Corey Tropp
- Drew Schiestel
- Nick Crawford
- Adam Pardy
- Alexander Sulzer
- Alex Biega
- Mark Mancari
- David Leggio
- Nick Tarnasky
- Matt Ellis
Of those 16 players, the names that stick out the most are Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer, Brian Flynn, and if the rumor mill proves right that Ryan Miller is out of Buffalo this season, then either David Leggio or Matthew Hackett will possibly slide right in.
I believe it is in the Sabres best interest to sign all three of the skaters in Hodgson, Sulzer, and Flynn.
Hodgson is well on his way to being a top line center, as he is growing more and more inside this organization. He finished this past season 2nd in points scored behind Thomas Vanek with 15 goals and 19 assists, tallying 34 points.
Sulzer, although hurt 17 games into the season, requiring season ending surgery on his ACL, finished the season with four points, 1 goal and 3 assists. A rarity for the Sabres, who lacked scoring defense-men. Still waiting on an update of how his recovery is going, so the ball is in the Sabres court. Do they sign him and have to temporarily use a call up from the Amerks in his place, or do they just leave it be and let the free agency take its course? My suggestion, keep him.
Next on the table is Brian Flynn. Playing only 17 games this season, most of which were at the tail end of the season as the Sabres tried to push their way into the playoff picture. He scored 11 points, consisting of 6 goals and 5 assists, his efforts at the tail end of the season make him an asset. He finished the season 10th in points
Along with his fantastic offensive presence, Flynn was a fantastic deep corner player, the kind who would fight along the boards and free up any puck that was needed.
In essence, he should definitely be looked at by the organization to resign.
Other notable free agents from around the league include the likes of Jarome Iginla; who is likely to be signed by the Penguins, Danny Briere and Ilya Brygalov; the recent Flyer buyouts, Patrik Elias, and if the Sabres are still looking at a goaltender, maybe Tim Thomas.
On the defensive side, players such as Ron Hiansey, Thomas Kaberle, and Marek Zidlicky headline the list of players who could potentially move out of their current towns, and maybe right into the Buffalo fanbase.
It’s all a waiting game until next Friday to see which way the Sabres will go. Obviously the team is in the middle of a rebuild, so a lot of players will be in and out of the roster these next four months. Some will go down to the AHL; some to their junior teams, others will be shopped to other teams around the league.
In the upcoming draft, the Buffalo Sabres will currently select 10 players. Granted some of these picks can be used as deal makers to possibly bring in players from other teams. So we will check back next week when the draft is over. As for now, what are your opinions on the upcoming postseason?