The upcoming trade deadline and the offseason will be two of the defining places where the Buffalo Sabres mark their course for the rebuild.
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They can either unload multiple veterans in an attempt to win Connor McDavid or they can try to acquire more talent now instead of relying on the draft.
Either way the Buffalo Sabres have a lot of decisions to make. A quick glance at cap geek, shows us that the Buffalo Sabres organization has 23 players who will either hit unrestricted free agency or restricted free agency at the end of this season. The Sabres will need to make decisions on everyone from Ryan Miller to Matt Hackett and John Scott to Matt Moulson before the beginning of next season.
For the purpose of this piece we won’t worry about the players in the AHL currently with the Rochester Americans who will either become UFA’s or RFA’s, we’ll just stick with some of the key players on the Sabres roster.
The names that jump out at you right away are the names like Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott. Then you see the second wave of players such as Marcus Foligno, John Scott, Henrik Tallinder, Tyler Ennis and Alex Sulzer who will also be looking for a new contract.
For the most part the Buffalo Sabres defence is set for the future. With Tyler Myers re-emerging, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov only a season away and Mark Pysyk‘s strong play, they have one heck of a top 4. Not to mention if they do land Aaron Ekblad at draft that will only help bolster the line-up. The Sabres biggest need is up front on offence and of the 23 players who need new contracts 13 of them are forwards.
Now each player from Moulson to Ott brings something unique to the table in their own right, the question is which player is the most valuable to the future of the Sabres?
Is it Moulson and his scoring ability? If you find Moulson a true number one centre there is no telling how good he could. What about Ott and his leadership abilities? Having someone like Ott around through the rebuild to help teach the rookies may be good. Then of course there is Ryan Miller. The Sabres franchise goaltender- will he stay or will he go?
What about a younger player such as Marcus Foligno? He still has untapped potential and the ability to be a solid power forward in the NHL, he just needs more time. Then there is Tyler Ennis who is currently the Buffalo Sabres number one centre and has found a new gear since Ted Nolan took of as interim head coach. He’s short but spunk and can be counted on to generate offence.
With 23 players needing a new contract there are bound to be at least a few names leaving the organization between the tradedeadine and free agency. But if you’re the GM of the Buffalo Sabres and had the ability to re-sign one free agent or restricted free agent, who would you choose?
Vote in the poll, start a nice debate in the comments and they have yourselves a very Merry Christmas! I myself am heading to the US of A for the Holiday’s.