We are approaching that time in the offseason where restricted free agents start to gain some attention. General managers are under intense pressure to get deals done with their young players before other teams can throw offer sheets at them. In Darcy Regier’s case, he must deal with four significant RFA’s. To say the least he will have a few grueling weeks ahead of him.
The first key RFA Darcy Regier must deal with is centre Cody Hodgson. Regier finds himself in an awkward position when it comes to Hodgson. At the very least, Hodgson will be a second line centre on the Sabres, thus making his salary slightly higher. Hodgson is a good young player, but at times has proven to be a defensive liability. Hodgson must improve on his play in his own end to be a more complete player. If I’m Regier, I’m giving Hodgson a 2 year deal, no more than 5 million dollars. The reason for this is that it will give him two years to prove that he is a complete NHL player. A 2.5 million dollar cap hit is very appropriate for Hodgson over two years. This is a win/win for both sides.
Brian Flynn is the next RFA on the list. Flynn impressed as a third line winger during his stint with the Sabres. He showed good speed and puck possession in the corners. Although Flynn is not a flashy player, he can be a solid call up and add depth to the group of young forwards. If I’m Regier, I’d offer Flynn a 1 year, 2 way contract worth no more than 1 million per year. Flynn will be on the bubble come training camp, but could prove to be a valuable player if injuries were to occur.
Coming off a very serious knee injury, Corey Tropp will look to have a nice recovery, and be back up with the Sabres. Tropp’s biggest assets are his physicality, grit and feistiness. Tropp can be an effective player for the Sabres. Imagine Tropp and Kaleta on the same line! That would be an oppositions night mare. Tropp will be resigned by the Sabres, no doubt about it. I’d be willing to bet he will get a 1 year deal worth around 700,000-800,000 per year. I believe Tropp will make the Sabres come the end of training camp, and have a solid come back year.
The final significant RFA the Sabres must consider signing is Luke Adam. The 2008 2nd round pick has been a huge disappointment to this point in his career. Adam hasn’t made much of an impact in the NHL, and hasn’t even stood out in the AHL. Adam is a Canadian kid, with ideal size, which is just what the Sabres need, but how patient will management be with him? I’m sure the Sabres will give him a 1 year deal, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Adam is on thin ice. At 23, Luke Adam may not have much more time to prove that he belongs up in the NHL.
To say the least, Darcy Regier definitely has his work cut out for him in the coming weeks. Regier must make sure that he doesn’t overpay his RFA’s and make the same mistake as he made with Tyler Myers. He must be extremely cautious with Cody Hodgson especially, as one would have to imagine that he will be asking for a lot of money. Only time will tell, but hopefully Regier will make wise decisions, and doesn’t over spend when it comes to his RFA’s.