GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 08: Goaltender Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a pad save on the shot as Eric Belanger #20 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates in during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on January 8 2011 in Glendale Arizona. The Sabres defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
About a year ago now I started my tenure as a writer here at Die By The Blade with a fanpost that was moved to the front page. It was entitled My Offseason Moves. The premise was/is obvious. If I were Darcy Regier, what tweaks would I make to upgrade the roster?
There are three ways in which to build a team in the offseason: trades, free agency (both unrestricted and restricted), and the draft. Last year, I dealt with each of those in one larger post. This year, I'm breaking them down and analyzing each aspect individually. Oh there's one more big difference. Instead of spending Tom Golisano's money, now I'm spending fifteen percent more on the payroll thanks to Terry Pegula.
Though it remains uncertain what that fifteen percent will actually translate to, if I am the GM (and have a $60M cap to work with) these are the following moves that I would make to improve this club. Check out Part Three-Unrestricted Free Agency after the jump.Unrestricted Free Agents
The Sabres have six players who made significant contributions last season that carry the UFA tag into this offseason: Tim Connolly, Steve Montador, Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, Patrick Lalime, and Cody McCormick. The only player of that group that I'm keeping is...
Cody McCormick-RW/C for $650K/1 year. Cap hit $650K. The big forward was consistent in the 81 games he played, setting career highs in goals (8), assists (12), and obviously points (20). McCormick's a physical player and he will provide competent depth going forward.
Eric Belanger-C for $3.8M/2 years. Cap hit $1.9M. The pivot is excellent on faceoffs, winning 55.3% of a 19th most 1297 draws taken last season. He's has been extremely consistent, contributing at least 33 points in each of the last eight seasons. Also, having not re-signed Grier or Neidermayer, there is a lack of veteran leadership on this club, a void the 33 year old Belanger would help fill.
Anton Babchuk-D for $4.2M/2 years. Cap hit $2.1M. A former first round draft pick, Babchuk finally put it all together this past season. After spending a year in the KHL, he tied his career high in points, with 35. He is strong in his own end (156 blocked shots and + 14 on the season, +18 after being traded to Calgary), though he is not very physical (only 19 hits). With Montador's departure, Babchuk would fit a need, as he would be only the second right handed shot from the point (along with Tyler Myers).
That's it for the UFAs, but we're not close to being done. The real fun is about to come.
Next Up: Part Four-Trades