Top 30 Unrestricted Free Agents:  30-16

With open season for free agents begins July 1st, we will take a look at the top 30 unrestricted free agents and determine if they will fit on the Sabres.  The list comes from The Fourth Period.

Number 30 Christian Backman can be found here and number 29 Francois Beauchemin can be found here.

Number 28:  Mike Knuble


Mike Knuble

#22 / Right Wing / Philadelphia Flyers

6-3

230

Jul 04, 1972



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Mike Knuble 27 20 47 5 62


Key Fact:  Knuble has played a full season three of the last four seasons and scored at least 50 points in the past four seasons.

The Good:  Knuble has shown a fair portion of consistency throughout his career.  He has scored at least twenty goals and forty points in each of the past six seasons.  He consistently has a shooting percentage of about 15% and plays really well on the man advantage.

The Bad:  Knuble is 36 years old.  At some point, Knuble is going to experience a drop off in production and it would not surprise me if that drop off happened sooner rather than later. 

2008-09 Salary:  $2,800,000

Verdict:  Knuble should sign somewhere this offseason but the Sabres are not going to be on that list. The Sabres have Pominville, Stafford, and Hecht at right wing and adding another $3,000,000 to the cap for a decrease in production would not serve the Sabres well.

Number 27:  Chris Neil


Chris Neil

#25 / Right Wing / Ottawa Senators

6-1

214

Jun 18, 1979



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Chris Neil 3 7 10 -13 146


Key Stat:  Neil is the all-time penalty minute leader for the Ottawa Senators. 

The Good:  Neil brings a level of grit to the ice when he plays.  He has the most penalty minutes all time for the Senators and has fought 118 times in his career.  The Sabres need to add some toughness to their roster.

The Bad:  Neil's reputation in Buffalo is far from spectacular.  With the Drury situation in 2007 and the constant rivalry between the Sabres and the Senators, most fans initially could not stomach Neil on the roster.

2008-09 Salary:  $1,100,000

Verdict:  Neil is looking for a major raise heading into next season.  He has turned down a four year $6.8 million contract from the Senators and is looking for at least $2.5 million a year.  The Sabres are going to need some grit in the lineup, but Neil will be way too rich for that to happen. 

Follow the jump for 26-15.

Number 26:  Samuel Pahlson


Samuel Pahlsson

#26 / Center / Chicago Blackhawks

6-0

204

Dec 17, 1977



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Samuel Pahlsson 7 11 18 -17 34


The Good:  Pahlsson can be considered a shut-down center who is expected to play against the best players of the opponent.  He also is one of the better players in terms of faceoff percentage.  Pahlsson's 53.5% faceoff percentage placed him in the top 20 in the league. 

The Bad:  In 65 games this season, Pahlsson only had 18 points.  For a team that needed a scoring touch at certain times last season, 18 points from the center position is not going to cut it.

2008-09 Salary:  $1,400,000

Verdict:  With all of the centers the Sabres have and the lack of scoring that Pahlsson has he may be a good fit on a third line.  At the $1.5-2 million range though, he would be way too expensive.

Number 25:  Robert Lang


Robert Lang

#20 / Center / Montreal Canadiens

6-3

217

Dec 19, 1970



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Robert Lang 18 21 39 6 36


The Good:  Lang has the experience to be able to help any team.  He has played in the league for 17 seasons and is still looking for his first Stanley Cup.  His 39 points this season came in 50 games, which puts him at just below at .78 points/game. 

The Bad:  Lang is 38 years old and his production has sharply decreased in the past two seasons.  He once was a 60 point/season player and has now dropped in half over the past two seasons.

2008-09 Salary:  $4,000,000

Verdict:  While Lang would be a good veteran presence, he would come too expensive and in a position that would see him on the third or fourth line. 

Number 24 - Rob Scuderi


Robert Scuderi

#4 / Defenseman / Pittsburgh Penguins

6-0

218

Dec 30, 1978



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Robert Scuderi 1 15 16 23 18

The Good:  Scuderi's season this year has taken the path of Brooks Orpik last year.  A cheap defensemen who showed his stuff off in the playoffs and is looking to get a raise heading into free agency.  Scuderi lead the Penguins in blocked shots during the playoffs and has shown some grit in his play.

The Bad:  With his performance in the playoffs, Scuderi is set to get a major raise.  Orpik went from $1.075 million cap hit to $3.75 million and Scuderi could see a raise to about the $3 million range.

2008-09 Salary:  $750,000

Verdict:  Scuderi would be a great addition to the Sabres lineup and someone that I could definitely see playing for us everyday.

Number 23:  Bill Guerin

Signed with the Penguins

Number 22:  Keith Tkachuck

Signed with the Blues

Number 21:  Dennis Seidenberg


Dennis Seidenberg

#4 / Defenseman / Carolina Hurricanes

6-1

210

Jul 18, 1981



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Dennis Seidenberg 5 25 30 -9 37

The Good:  Seidenberg led the Hurricanes in blocked shots this past season and was 17th in the league in total blocked shots.  That same type of play carried over into the playoffs as well with Seidenberg being the team leader in blocked shots and fourth overall in the league.

The Bad:  Seidenberg's -5 in the playoffs was tied for third worst on the team.  His -9 in the regular season was again third worst on the team.  It can be partially explained by his .02 quality of competition which is third hardest among defensemen but is still a cause for concern.

2008-09 Salary:  $1,200,000

Verdict:  Like Scuderi, Seidenberg is looking to cash in this offseason and would be a great pick up for the Sabres.  That being said, Scuderi would probably be the better option between the two.

Number 20 - Johnny Oduya


Johnny Oduya

#29 / Defenseman / New Jersey Devils

6-0

200

Oct 01, 1981



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Johnny Oduya 7 22 29 21 30


The Good:  Odyua has developed into a top 4 defenseman for the Devils and will live up to the hype that a new contract will bring.  Oduya was third on the team in blocked shots and was fifth on the team with a +21.  This coming with the third hardest quality of competition among Devil defensemen.

The Bad:  Oduya is looking for a serious raise off of his $600,000 salary.  Somewhere in the $3-4 million range.

2008-09 Salary:  $600,000

Verdict:  It sounds that Oduya will be signed by the Devils before the free agency season starts.

Number 19 - Mikael Samuelsson


Mikael Samuelsson

#37 / Right Wing / Detroit Red Wings

6-2

213

Dec 23, 1976



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Mikael Samuelsson 19 21 40 0 50

The Good:  Samuelsson has the experience of playing on a contender and for the Cup.  Samuelsson's 40 points and 19 goals figure in the middle of the pack for the Red Wings but it comes on a fairly loaded offensive team.  His 19 goals would have placed him 5th on the Sabres during the regular season. 

The Bad:  It appears that Samuelsson can be somewhat of an undisciplined player, third on the Red Wings in penalty minutes.

2008-09 Salary:  $1,200,000

Verdict:  The Fourth Period is suggesting that Samuelsson is someone that the Sabres are interested in.  With his production on the right side, it would be a nice addition to the Sabres.

Number 18 - Erik Cole


Erik Cole

#26 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes

6-2

205

Nov 06, 1978



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Erik Cole 18 24 42 0 73

The Good:  Cole seems to work well with the Hurricanes in terms of production.  When he was traded to the Hurricanes on the trade deadline, he scored 15 points in his 17 games and a +3.

The Bad:  Cole seems to work well with Hurricanes in terms of production.  Before being traded to the Hurricanes, he had 27 points in 63 games with the Oilers and was also a -3.

2008-09 Salary:  $4,000,000

Verdict:  The Hurricanes are looking to seriously resign Cole.

Number 17 - Nik Antropov


Nik Antropov

#80 / Center / New York Rangers

6-6

230

Feb 18, 1980



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Nik Antropov 28 31 59 -14 30

The Good:  Antropov is a good center for someone looking for a top two center.  His 59 points was good enough for 26th of all centers. 

The Bad:  That -14 is a dangerous number for someone looking at Antropov. 

2008-09 Salary:  $2,150,000

Verdict:  Antropov is a good player but not someone that the Sabres should be interested in.

Number 16 - Todd Bertuzzi


Todd Bertuzzi

#7 / Right Wing / Calgary Flames

6-3

231

Feb 02, 1975



G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Todd Bertuzzi 15 29 44 -13 74

The Good:  Bertuzzi is still a good player that can contribute to a team at 34 years old.  His 44 points was good enough for 7th on the Flames.

The Bad:  Bertuzzi still has baggage from the incident many years ago.  Also, he really is a defensive liability. 

2008-09:  $1,950,000

Verdict:  Thanks but no thanks.

 

Later will be Players 15-1.

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