The Buffalo Sabres have a lot to think about before the NHL free agency period opens on July 1. Today, let’s look at some of the centers who may be available as unrestricted free agents next month and who the Buffalo Sabres could potentially be interested in signing.
- POSITION: Center
- # OF PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT WITH SABRES: Three
- PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT: Cody Hodgson, Torrey Mitchell, Zemgus Girgensons
- IMPENDING SABRES UFAs: Zenon Konopka, Kevin Porter
- IMPENDING SABRES RFAs: Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam
The Sabres have a handful of free agent centers within the 0rganization to think about. Tyler Ennis will almost certainly be back, while Luke Adam may find himself in Rochester for another AHL season, at least to start. Zenon Konopka will miss the first 20 games of the season, which is basically a big flashing red sign that says “STOP!” for any team considering him in free agency. Could the Buffalo Sabres re-sign him? Possibly, but in my opinion – not likely. As for Kevin Porter, he’s made an impact in Rochester and if signed, would likely return there for next season.
Now, let’s look at five of the centers who will be available on July 1.
- Paul Stastny is entering his ninth NHL season. He’s been with the Colorado Avalanche since being drafted by the team in 2005, 44th overall. Will the 28-year-old Quebec City native be looking for a new home heading into next season, or will the Avs re-sign him? This season, Stastny had 60 points (25-35) in 71 regular season games. He added 10 points (5-5) in seven playoff games. Overall, Stastny has 458 points in 538 career regular season games. He’s represented the United States three times in IIHF World Championships action and also played for the USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
- David Legwand enters his 16th NHL season this fall. Legwand is a seasoned veteran who has spent almost all of his NHL career with the Nashville Predators, with the exception of 21 games this season, spent with the Detroit Red Wings. He’s coming up on 1,000 career games played – just 23 shy of that mark – and has 577 career regular season points. He also has 28 points in 52 career playoff games. The 33-year-old was traded to Detroit – his hometown – at the deadline this year in exchange for Patrick Eaves, Calle Jarnkrok and a second-round pick. He was brought into a Red Wings team desperately seeking help on center and the gritty Legwand was able to help. He had 40 points in 62 games with Nashville prior to the trade, and 11 points in 21 games with the Red Wings after.
- While I’m not a fan of bringing former players back, Derek Roy is set to be one of the centers on the free agent block when July hits. Roy, 31, has played for three teams in the past two seasons. He spent all of this year with the St. Louis Blues, garnering 37 points (9-28) in 75 games. The prior year was split between the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks. Other than that, Roy spent the majority of his NHL career with the Sabres. He’s played an unlucky 666 career regular season games, scoring 492 points in that stretch. Roy made $4 million last year in his one-year deal with the Blues. Could the Buffalo Sabres be interested in bringing him back?
- Brian Boyle, 29, is one of the lesser-experienced players on this list. This season was just the seventh that saw Boyle in NHL action, though his first two season saw him play just eight and 28 games, spending the majority of the time in the AHL. This season, Boyle played in all 82 regular season games, a feat he accomplished for the third time in the past four years. (He played 38 of 48 games in the lockout season for the New York Rangers.) In 82 games this year, Boyle had six goals and 12 assists for 18 points. He added eight points (3-5) in 25 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Overall, Boyle has 100 points in 391 career regular season games and averages 1.8 shots/game.
- The last name on this list is none other than Dave Bolland, a Mimico, Ontario native who spent this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bolland, 28, played just 23 games this season. He was sidelined much of the year with an ankle injury that kept him out from November until March, then missed the final three games of the season due to another injury. In those 23 games, Bolland had eight goals and four assists. Overall, his career has seen him notch 180 points (78-102) in 355 regular season games. This wasn’t the first season that Bolland missed a majority of action with injury – he played just 39 games in the 2009-10 season, sidelined by a back injury and resulting surgery. One thing, however, that Bolland does have that no one else on this list does: a Stanley Cup ring, achieved with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
Would you want the Buffalo Sabres to sign any of these players? Vote in the poll below, or leave your comments if you think there’s others the team should be interested in.