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 left wingers who may be available as unrestricted free agents next month.
- POSITION: Left Wing
- # OF PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT WITH SABRES: One
- PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT: Nicolas Deslauriers
- IMPENDING SABRES UFAs: John Scott
- IMPENDING SABRES RFAs: Cory Conacher, Marcus Foligno
Logically, the Sabres will probably sign Foligno (and possibly Conacher), leaving them with three left wingers under contract. Even so, it’s a position that’s fairly light in the organization. There’s a small handful of left wingers set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 – here’s a few the Sabres may want to look at.
- Mason Raymond is the first player on this list. Raymond, 28, spent most of his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks organization up until this season, which he played with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This season, Raymond played in all 82 games for the Leafs. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points on the year. This wasn’t far off his numbers from ’09-10, when he notched 53 points (25-28) in 82 games with the Canucks. Overall, Raymond has 223 points in 456 career regular season games, and 18 points (8-10) in 55 playoff games. In the fall, he’ll be heading into his eighth NHL season — could a move to Buffalo be next for him?
- Dany Heatley, 33, is another left winger the Sabres could look at when free agency opens. Heatley is more of a seasoned veteran and would bring 12 seasons of NHL experience to the Sabres organization. He’s appeared in 940 NHL games in his career – regular season and playoffs combined – and has 854 points in that stretch. If the Sabres were interested in Heatley, it wouldn’t be his first stint in the Eastern Conference — he began his career with the Atlanta Thrashers before playing four seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Heatley has spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Wild. This year, he had 28 points (12-16) in 76 regular season games and added six points in 11 playoff games.
- Tanner Glass, 30, is another left winger set to hit free agency on July 1. Glass has spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins but has jumped around a bit in his NHL career. He actually began his pro career with the Rochester Americans in 2006-07 – when they were still the affiliate of the Florida Panthers. Since then, Glass has played for Florida, Vancouver, Winnipeg and most recently, Pittsburgh. He has 377 regular season NHL games under his belt and has notched 54 points and a whopping 458 penalty minutes in that stretch. While Glass has never been the biggest scorer on the team, he’s not afraid to play physical; he put up 90 penalty minutes in 67 games this year alone.
- Benoit Pouliot, 27, spent the first three and a half seasons of his NHL career with the Minnesota Wild organization, but the past few years have seen him moved around quite a bit. Pouliot was traded to Montreal in 2009 but would spend just a season and a half there. Next up was a season in Boston, then the lockout-shortened season in Tampa Bay, and this year with the New York Rangers. This year, Pouliot had 36 points (15-21) in 80 regular season games with the Rangers. He also had 56 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, Pouliot put up 10 points (5-5) and 26 penalty minutes in 25 games.
- Milan Michalek, 29, will be entering his 10th NHL season this fall. He spent the first half of his NHL career with the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him 6th overall in 2003. Since 2009, Michalek has played with the Ottawa Senators — but could they let him walk this offseason? Michalek has 631 regular season games under his belt and notched 394 points (187-207) in that stretch. He also has 23 points in 57 playoff games. Could the Czech winger be a good fit for the Sabres? This season, Michalek played in all 82 games – the first time in his career – and had 39 points (17-22) and 41 penalty minutes.
Would you want to see the Sabres sign any of these players? Or perhaps there’s another looming free agent left-winger you’d love to see in the blue and gold next year? Vote in the poll below or leave your thoughts in the comments!