Much of the off-season talk will be about the Sabres roster next season. The first part of that discussion will revolve around the impending free agents. We all know about the list of free agents on the Sabres roster but the list doesn't end there. There are players in Portland that will be free agenst as well.
Mark Mancari is the most recognizeable name among the free agents that played with the Pirates this season. Most of the unrestricted guys were veterans that were brought in for depth so we won't waste any time talking about them. The restricted guys will the focus of this post.
Funk is a big strong defenseman that has had a cup of coffee in the NHL. He will probably never develop into a everyday NHL player but he still may add depth of the Sabres decide to re-sign him.
He has played his entire pro career as a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization. He was drafted in the second round of the 2004 draft but his development has been slower than the Sabres had hoped for.
Verdict: Funk will be re-signed and assigned to Portland.
Hunter was a top-tier player with the London Knights in the OHL before he turned pro. He has never developed into a NHL type player but has been serviceable in the AHL.
I don't have enough knowledge of his game to have any idea what the Sabres will do with him.
Verdict: No Clue
Card also had a cup of coffee in the NHL. His cup of coffee came back in his rookie season and he has never come close again. It's obvious that Card has no future in the NHL with the Sabres organization.
If the Sabres decide to re-sign him, he will have to compete hard just to earn a roster spot. The Sabres have really bolstered their blue line in Portland for next season. Matt Generous, TJ Brennan and Drew Scheistel have all bees signed recently and Dennis Persson joined the team late this past season.
Verdict: Not re-signed
Dennis was plagued with injuries this past season. He has played some good hockey in the AHL but he is relatively inconsistent.
Dennis is not considered to be a NHL prospect but he could be a good guy to have on an AHL team.
Verdict: Will be re-signed
Zagrapan was once a highly touted prospect in the Sabres organization. He has seen his prospect status diminished because of inconsistent play. At the age of 22 years-old he is not a lost cause. Many young players have trouble adjusting to the professional game and take time to develop.
Zagrapan has never been given a chance to play i the NHL in the regular season. He was good in his pre-season action the past two seasons but got off to a slow start in the AHL both seasons.
Verdict: Will be re-signed
Mancari is by far the most NHL ready of the players listed here. Mancari had an opportunity to play a couple of games with the Sabres this season and he didn't look out of place in is short stint.
He has done just about everything he can in the AHL and needs to make the jump next season whether he plays for the Sabres or not. Mancari has been selected to the last two AHL all-star games and won the hardest shot competition two seasons ago. His shot registered at 102.8 MPH, just short of the NHL champion that season (Zdeno Chara 103.1 MPH).
Verdict : Will be re-signed