I have made it abundantly clear that I feel the Sabres need to upgrade their defense (a point that has been made by everyone including Darcy Regier). It's time to take a look at some guys that may be available for the Sabres. There are plenty of options available to the Sabres either via trade or free agency. I don't see the Sabres breaking the bank on a guy like Wade Redden or making an attempt to re-sign Brian Campbell. The Sabres will be shopping for a power play contributor as well as a tough stay-at-home defenseman. There are a few guys who could be attractive to the Sabres in free agency...lets take a look a couple of guys.
Ron Hainsey (Columbus Blue Jackets)- 27 years old
It took Hainsey a couple of years to become an everyday player but he has had a couple of really good seasons in Columbus. Hainsey has developed into a player that can play at both ends of the ice although he will not set the world on fire. He would be an upgrade for the Sabres based on their current makeup. The downside to Hainsey is that he plays soft for a big guy, similar to what we have seen out of Kalinin but much more consistent on the ice.
John Michael Liles (Colorado Avalanche)- 27 years old
Liles would be a perfect fit for the Sabres as a replacement for Brian Campbell. He regressed slightly last season scoring only six goals but he has scored in double digits three times in the last four seasons. Liles is really small for a defenseman but he would fill a huge need for the Sabres on the blue line. Despite having a small frame and not being a physical guy he is pretty good in his own end and he is a plus player throughout his career. He would be a huge upgrade for the Buffalo Sabres.
Michal Roszival (New York Rangers)- 29 years old
Roszival is a little bit older than the other two guys that I mentioned but he would still help out the Sabres defense. He is another guy that has a huge offensive upside and he is still responsible in his own end. He has a bullet shot from the point and he isn't afraid to mix it up in the corners. He certainly isn't known for his physical play but he will get dirty if he needs to. Sabres fans can remember how good he was in the conference semi-finals in the 2006-2007 season.
Mike Commodore (Ottawa Senators)- 28 years old
Everyone remembers how good Commodore was when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006. He has regressed slightly over the past couple odf seasons but he can be had for a relatively low price and he would bring a physical presence to the Sabres blue line. He doesn't bring anything to the offensive aspect of the game but he will be solid in his own zone. In addition to being good in his own end we are constantly reminded about how he is a good influence in the locker room and he is also a fan favorite.
Jason Smith (Philadelphia Flyers)- 34 years old
Jason Smith is on the downside of his career but he could bring a veteran presence to a team that lacked veteran leadership last season. Smith isn't the same player that he was in Edmonton but if the price is right he could be an asset to whatever team takes a chance on him. He is another player that brings nothing to the offensive aspect of the game but he is solid in his own end. Smith still needs to do a better job of picking his spots when hitting players because he often finds himself out of position.
Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins)- 27 years old
Orpik is the guy that most people have been talking about because he had a strong playoffs and he grew up in East Ahmerst. He brings an unbelievable physical game and he is solid in his own end. Like Smith he finds himself out of position often because he always thinks hit first. His physical mentality would be a huge a boost for what is considered to be a soft team. The bottom line is that the NHL is a business and I think he priced himself out the Sabres league with a strong playoffs. It took Orpik awhile to find his game in the NHL but last season he really came into his own. At the age of 27 he could only be scratching the surface and could someday be a superstar in the league.
Rhett Warrener (Calgary Flames)- 32 years old
Warrener is a late addition to the list because of being waived by Calgary today. There is still a chance that someone could claim him off waivers but if not he will become a free agent. I don't need to tell Sabres fans too much about Warrener because he was a fan favorite before being traded for Chris Drury. Warrener has had plenty of injury problems in his career but last season he played only 31 games last season because of numerous injuries including a bum wheel.