Sabres aced free agency in 2023
In my Offseason Guide, I stated the Sabres either needed to add a blueliner via trade or free agency, preferably one that was over 30, and perhaps even one younger talent capable of playing top four minutes. Luckily, Buffalo got both on the first day with Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton.
Johnson was the over-30 piece I was looking for, and he won’t stay in the Queen City long, having signed on for just a one-year deal. Clifton is the younger, or in hockey years middle-aged, talent who will stick around a few seasons.
This is a perfect setup, as it will allow a high-end blueliner in Rochester, most likely Ryan Johnson or Nikita Novikov, to move up the ranks as soon as 2024-25 if they prove they’re NHL-ready. If not, and if Erik Johnson is willing, then he can sign for another season.
Buffalo also added a pair of goaltenders for Rochester in Dustin Tokarski and Devin Cooley, along with forward Justin Richards. However, the Sabres have yet to bring in another forward, though there are some available at the time of this writing should they choose to upgrade the roster with a veteran following Quinn’s injury.
I also mentioned the Buffalo Sabres should at least look into bringing in a veteran goaltender, even if I’m more than cool with Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen teaming up this year. If the price to bring in a veteran was too high, or if Adams was okay with Levi and Luukkonen, then it wasn’t a huge deal if they neglected to make such a move.