This years crop of UFA's is full of aging stars.  Eventually, they will all be signed or move on to the KHL.  July 1st may be a frenzy or a slow roll.  The Sabres have never been ones to make a splash on July 1st.  This year i'm not sure there's many big fish that i'd want to reel in.  However, we're probably going to lose some veterans in Free Agency, so we'll need to replace them.  Here are a few UFA's that I wouldn't mind seeing in the Blue & Gold next year:

RW - Patrick Marleau - Age 30 - Hey Sabres Fans! Our 2nd best Right Winger is DREW STAFFORD! Patrick Marleau scored 44 goals this past year.  That's 16 more than Thomas Vanek.  A more reasonable average goal total for the Right Winger is around 32.  Still pretty awesome.  He also has proven to continue scoring in the playoffs.  San Jose may want to let go of Marleau partially due to their playoff failures.  In my opinion, he's not the problem.  Some call him a 'poor-man's Chris Drury'.  I will take him for richer or poorer... 

Downside: He's 30, and in this NHL climate, you'll have to give him a 5-7 year deal.  He's also a legend in San Jose so he may sign there for a bargain.

RW - Bill Guerin - Age 39 - The man can still play.  He's a gritty veteran.  His stats may be a bit inflated from playing with Sid, but he's still a positive.  Again, the Sabres are weak at RW.  We could use him sparingly during the reg season and let him bloom during the playoffs as he has shown to do.  He'd probably sign for a 1-year deal, something Regier & Golisano would like.

Downside: He's 39.  Might not want to come to Buffalo.  Might retire.  He'll be sought after which may drive up the price.  Who WOULDN'T want Bill guerin on their team?

RW - Todd Bertuzzi - Age 35 - 6'3" - 231lbs.  Tired of having your top lines picked on by Big Defenseman?  TB is one tough bastard. 

Downside: Age.  He's also the type of player who may shy away from a small market.  Not a huge playoff contributor as of yet.   

D - Anton Volchenkov - 6'1", 235.  I am salivating.  Not a stats guy.  Big shot blocker.  He's only 28 years old.  The most appealing factor to me is that I frequently hear his name in this sentence: '_________ has been sidelined for 5 weeks due to a vicious hit by Anton Volchenkov'.  We need this guy.  How many vicious hits have Toni Lydman & And Henrik Tallinder given out lately? 

Downside: He's possibly the #1 D-Man out there in Free Agency.  The price will be high.  And we all know the Sabres are afraid to spend money.

D - Toni Lydman - Age 32 - I know it's boring to talk about signing your own players.  Lydman is a solid D-Man.  If he's willing to sign for three years or less at a reasonable rate, i'll take him.  He's not going to win you the cup, but he's been a quiet veteran presence. His favorite bands are Slayer & Pantera.  That's a plus, right there.  He's probably the best interview on the Sabres since Spacek & Biron are gone.  Speaking of Marty Biron... 

Downside: He's 32, which is getting up there. 

G - Marty Biron - Age 32 - He's made his rounds and is probably ready to accept a backup role at this point.  You are going to have to pay him more than the standard backup salary.  It's worth it.  C'mon Sabres fans, don't you want to be confident when Miller has to sit?   We could do a 52/30 split and have two solid, well-rested goalies for the playoffs.  That's worth it to me.  Having a poor backup probably cost us the playoffs in 2007-08 & 2008-09. Let's fix that.  This is a no-brainer to me.

Downside: He'll command slightly more than a normal backup.  Somewhere around $1.5-2M. 

D - Shaone Morrissonn - Age 27 - Wikipedia says... Morrisonn has begun to prove himself as a tough, stay-at-home defenceman. During the 2008 NHL playoffs, Morrisonn played every game with a broken jaw and a separated shoulder as the team's number one defenceman. His stats are not impressive, he's not a fighter, he's not huge.  Doesn't seem to be anything special.  6'4, 217. = Not going to get picked on.  He is Canadian.  teams with Canadians seem to do well in the playoffs.  I want a guy on my team who plays with seperated shoulders.

Downside: It's a bit of a risk, especially if you have to give him big bucks.  Teams love Young defenseman.  He has modest stats which may leave him under the radar.  Either way, he's going to get a long-term deal.  He has already once taken less $ to stay with the Caps, so he may want to remain with them.

LW - Alexander Frolov - Age 27 - What's not to like about this guy?  This is your replacement for Derek Roy.  And you'd probably have to move Roy to free up the space for him.  In all honesty, I think he's as good as Vanek.  I know it's blasphemy to talk about getting rid of Vanek, but TV makes a boat load of cash.  Frolov is of similar age, size, and ability.  Really doesn't make sense to switch out TV for Frolov, but if we could keep both that'd be cool.  He is 6'2", 204.  Good size.

Downside: LA wants to keep him.  We have a healthy stable of LW's.

D - Dan Hamhuis - Age 27 - 6'1", 205.  He's been a solid #3 D-Man for Nashville, behind Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.  Hamhuis is Canadian, which in some circles makes him more desirable than a European player.  His biggest asset in Free Agency is his age.  He's a decent assist man.  He'd be a replacement for Tallinder or Lydman as a #2 or #3 D-Man.

Downside: The price tag.  He's going to get a big long contract.

The Bargain Bin!

Eric Boulton - Who cares what position he plays?  We all know what he does.  I don't miss Andrew Peters, but I think it's ok to have a roster spot for a guy who does the dirty work.  Craig Rivet is getting old and Paul Gaustad is too pretty to be getting in fights.  This would be a replacement if we lose Matt Ellis or Adam Mair.

 D - Jay McKee - 32 - Not much to say.  This isn't a glamorous signing, but it would be a cheap one.  Similar to the montador signing.  I wouldn't expect too much out of McKee.  Maybe a depth, 6/7th D-Man? He loves Buffalo.

Downside: He's really not that good

C - Scott Nichol - Age 35 - He was on the 1995-96 Rochester Amerks Calder Cup Championship team.  Legend has it he used to come out of his Rochester home & play street hockey with the local kids. He might blend in with a group of kids at 5'8".  Nichol has done everything right(except punch Jaroslav Spacek in the back of the head) and had a long NHL career.  He'd add some scoring touch to your 4th line without losing the grit.  He's small but feisty.

Downside: He's got a good thing going in San Jose. He's 35.  He may command a bit more salary than the Sabres are willing to spend on a 4th line center.  

Stay Away! :

RW - Ilya Kovalchuk - Nothing against the Russian, but we need playoff performers.  He will be getting a huge deal from some team.  He's a sniper on the PP, which we need.  I'd love to have Kovalchuk, but I'd hate to be going into playoff time with him as my only hope.

Alex Tanguay - I hear his name often.  Looked up the stats.  Declined every year since the lockout, which shows he's a player that needs space.  Not too much space in this version of the NHL.  It's the kind of mid-level signing the Sabres are suceptible to making.  Don't do it!

RW - Lee Stempniak - Age 27 - He's from Buffalo; I get it!  I'm just suspicious of someone who has a huge season right before free agency.  He scored 28 goals this season after three seasons of around 14 goals.  He did have a big sophomore season in 06-07 and he could just now be rounding into form at age 27.  He failed to score in the playoffs this year in the 'Yotes 7 game series vs. Detroit.

Why Not?!?!?

D - Sergei Gonchar - Age 36 - The Sabres Power Play SUCKS!  Why not give the old man a crack at reviving it? 

 

 

http://www.sportscity.com/nhl/2010-nhl-unrestricted-free-agents-by-position/#Right Wing