Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Could Sign RFA - The Offer Sheet Gamble


Tim Murray wants the Buffalo Sabres to get better, and he wants to get better quick.  Waiting for drafted players to be ready for the NHL, or waiting for the team around said drafted players to be working as a finely tuned machine might not be in his best interest.

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If you can’t wait for drafted players and you don’t want to waste money over paying on July 1st – signing restricted free agents to an offer sheet might help you build a core of players that will strengthen your team and bridge the gap you need to get good. Here are a list of restricted free agents the Buffalo Sabres should or could be considering in the restricted free agent market.

Buffalo Sabres Restricted Free Agency Options

C Ryan O’Reilly – Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche center held out last year Only to be signed by the team.  The Buffalo Sabres were rumored to be involved in discussions with the Avalanche for his rights last year, and many people thought the Sabres should have used their offer sheet to pry the center away. Buffalo is thin at center, and could use the depth.  While Tyler Ennis led the team in scoring this past year, he is also a restricted free agent, and O’Reilly would be an upgrade over Tyler Ennis on the roster if you didn’t want to keep Ennis as part of your rebuild.  With Cody Hodgson and Zemgus Girgensons locking up roster spots for 2014 – Buffalo could make a move on O’Reilly and start building around the pivot.

LW Tomas Tatar – Detroit Red Wings

With only two seasons under his belt, the left winger was second in scoring for the Detroit Red Wings.  Unfortunately for Detroit – they have limited cap space to work with bringing their other restricted guys into the fold, as well as add the veteran presence they need to build upon their limited success in their first year in the Eastern Conference.  Detroit won’t let Tatar leave the nest easily; but given their position if caught at the right moment, they may be hard pressed to match an offer sheet. The Sabres know far to well what being backed into a corner with an offer sheet means, well at least they used to.  Getting Tatar into the fold builds their left wing corp up, a position they aren’t overly well off in.  After Foligno and Conacher, the drop off is pretty severe, with third and fourth liners Matt Ellis and John Scott holding down the fort.  The Buffalo Sabres really don’t need John Scott on the roster, and Matt Ellis brings leadership and depth to the organization, but doesn’t really get my vote of confidence when it getting more than Rochester Americans type minutes for the organization.

C Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues might be a prime target for offer sheets.  With another early post season exit, the St. Louis Blues learned this year what it meant to be the favorite, as opposed to being a contender.  The thing is, the St. Louis Blues should be a contender – and the organization could be looking for any piece of the puzzle that is going to get them to that stage. With plenty of free agents on their books including former Buffalo Sabres Ryan Miller and Steve Ott – pinning an offer sheet on the Blues might catch them blind sided and let you pull one of their players from them, or they could be hoping to match the offer taking all the work of getting a contract onto paper and putting it on another general manager.

C Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets

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Columbus could be thinking bridge contract here to see if Johansen can live up to the hype that has surrounded himself – if that is not good enough for Johansen and his agent, an offer sheet might be the best way for Ryan Johansen to get the contract he thinks he deserves. While other options might be a sure thing or get teams to second guess their ability to match the offer sheet, Columbus has plenty of room on the payroll to match any offer – Buffalo’s best chance is to make the deal sound real sweet to Johansen and his agent making it more about length and security than the money. Offer sheets may sound like the way to go for the Buffalo Sabres to avoid overpaying in free agency on the open market, but it could still lead to over paying players to prevent teams from easily matching any offer made on one of their players. If you were Tim Murray would you be looking at offer sheets to round out your roster for next season?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Jaden Schwartz Ryan Johansen Ryan O'Reilly Tomas Tatar

  • Kevin

    Why take ROR when Stastny is up for a contract this offseason? He is the better player. I know why not both. yea that’s the ticket :D

    • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

      Unfortunately were not going to get too much into free agency. Why not turn a prospect and a later round draft pick (second or third at the most) into someone who is proven and can already play at the NHL level?

  • qwicwted

    Tim, I think we could get Tatar and Jurco via a trade of Ehrhoff and one of our draft picks like 50 or 61. I do like the idea of making an offer to Schwartz or Johansen although I do believe when you start getting into the “offer sheet” game you increase the possibility of it coming back to bite you. What might work is offering Foligno, McBain and Mitchell for Johansen.

    • http://www.sabrenoise.com Tim Redinger

      The past regime wouldn’t deal with offer sheets because they felt slighted that Edmonton his Thomas Vanek with one in the same year that we lost Drury and Briere. I don’t think Murray will be gun shy when it comes to the offer sheet, nor do I think he would shy away from a trade that would make the team better. I wouldn’t care about McBain and Mitchell being traded, I have nothing vested in them as an organization, and if you can flip them for something better, great. Foligno I am still on the fence about, I think he can still be a great utilitarian type player, but how many of those types do you need? I think people have too much emotional attachment to these “Buffalo born” prospects. I am open for anything that will make the team better.

    • Joe McGrath

      I know McBain is a defenseman, but for the sake of argument then, that proposed trade and their 2013-14 seasons:
      Foligno/Mitchell/McBain: 15 goals in 210 games, average age 26.7
      Ryan Johansen: 33 goals in 82 games, age 21

      Throw in some magic beans and you got a deal.

  • bigolbig

    1. These teams will not let these guys walk, especially Johansen.
    2. Sabres will not want to give up high draft picks for them.
    3. Who wants to sign in Buffalo right now?