Two free agents the Buffalo Sabres need to sign

Vegas Golden Knights v San Jose Sharks
Vegas Golden Knights v San Jose Sharks / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

With four Buffalo Sabres players expected to be free agents and likely gone from Buffalo (Victor Olofsson, Zemgus Girgensons, Eric Robinson and Tyson Jost) the blue and gold need to shore up their roster heading into 2024-25. Even if only half of those forwards take better offers elsewhere, the team will have to fill some holes on the roster.

Offense is not the only area Buffalo must shore up. While GM Kevyn Adams is building a solid core around defensemen including, Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson, Connor Clifton and Bowen Byram, the Sabres’ D could still use a boost.

Here are two free agents Buffalo should pick up before rival franchises do.

Jonathan Marchessault, F

The veteran winger has enjoyed his time in Las Vegas, becoming part of a Stanley-Cup winning team in 2023. However, there’s trouble in the desert paradise. Marchessault expressed interest in getting a better deal.

With that being said, he also hinted that he'll seek better opportunities if he doesn't get it. This is something difficult for the Golden Knights to juggle, now that they’ve resigned D-man Noah Hanifin and must decide on center Chandler Stephenson and winger Anthony Mantha.

If Marchessault leaves Vegas, the Sabres should make a move to sign him. The veteran forward enjoyed a 42-27-69 record this past season and brings an experienced presence, a high offensive production level and strong leadership skills. What’s more, he played in Sin City with Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs. If a Buffalo contract happened, Bowen Byram wouldn’t be the only Sabre to reunite with former teammates.

Since the Sabres have more than $23 million in cap space, they can afford to offer Marchessault a good deal. If they don’t, some other rival might. Adding a player with Marchessault’s skill and track record can only improve the franchise’s depth heading into this coming season.

Brett Pesce, D

Much like the Vegas Golden Knights, the cap-strapped Carolina Hurricanes need to decide who stays and who goes. Defenseman Brett Pesce would like to stick around, but the Canes have UFAs Jake Guentzel, Martin Necas, Brady Skjei, Tony DeAngelo and Teuvo Teräväinen to handle, too.

If Carolina fails to make a deal with Pesce, the Sabres could sign the veteran defenseman and strengthen their D with a proven player. Pesce is known for his right-shot and is good on penalty kills. This past season, Buffalo was ranked an NHL-13th on PKs while Carolina led the league. If the blue and gold have the chance to land Pesce, they should definitely take it. 

The NHL’s top eight teams in PP scoring in the regular season (Tampa, Carolina, the N.Y. Rangers, Edmonton, Colorado, Dallas, Toronto and Florida) all made the playoffs this year, while the Sabres are in a 13-year long postseason drought. Having a defenseman who can help thwart opponents’ man advantage scoring opportunities is crucial if Buffalo hopes to play games past April.