2011 Sabres Free Agency Preview: Defensemen

I'll have to be honest - the excitement I had for writing this post has been tempered by the excitement of the Sabres trading yesterday for the rights to Christian Ehrhoff. Today is going to simply be a waiting game to see if the big German blueliner likes Buffalo more than Vancouver or the New York Islanders.

But, we forge ahead with this article under the assumption that Ehrhoff does not sign here and the Buffalo Sabres want to add another veteran defenseman to the fold. So here are a few players that the team might look at:

Christian Ehrhoff: Wait, you didn't think we'd let this preview go by without an Ehrhoff mention, did you? Here's what he brings to the table - he's a big defenseman at 6'2'' who plays a little like Tyler Myers in that he's a great skater, puckmover, and can quarterback a powerplay (goodbye Pominville on the point.) He owns good hockey sense, can play big minutes (he had a few 30+ minute games in the playoffs) and at age 28 is still in his prime. On the downside, he can be a little passive in the defensive zone and sometimes has trouble when pressured by a great forecheck. Still, he'd be a very solid addition to a Buffalo defensive corps that is shaping up to be much steadier than last season.

Ed Jovanovski: What would the Sabres want with a 35 year old defenseman, you ask? Well, the team has proclaimed itself in "win now mode" with their promise to win the Cup in the next 3 seasons. They've also got a talented crop of blueliners waiting in the AHL who just need a few more years. Jovocop would be a great stopgap option between now and the time McNabb and Pysyk are ready. He's got great natural skill in both the offensive and defensive zone, and could be used effectively on the power play. If you're not scared away by his age, Jovanovski could be an option.

James Wisniewski: The Wiz has another day to sign with the Blue Jackets, as his rights were traded to them earlier, but is he someone the Sabres should take a look at? Though he'll definitely be pricey, if you're looking to upgrade a mediocre powerplay (and the fact that the team fired special teams coach Brian McCutcheon says that they are) then look no further than Wisniewski. How does 51 points and 7 power play goals last season sound? Sure, it comes with a -14 rating, but his offensive talents cannot be denied. As long as you can pair him with someone more steady, Wisniewski could be a great option to add some more pop to an already offensive blue line.

Andy Greene: Aside from having a great first name, Andy Greene is a 28-year old defensman who's still improving offensively. He comes from a sound defensive system in New Jersey, plays with poise, and has good puck-moving skills. He's not too well known, and his smallish size sometimes becomes an issue, but if you're looking for a player who won't be too expensive and would be able to play solid second-line minutes, Greene would be a nice pickup.

Shane O'Brien: Most of the players we've talked about so far have been offensively focused, so let's throw out at least one gritty defender. O'Brien is like a more experienced Mike Weber - he uses his 6'3'' 230 lbs size effectively and isn't afraid to get all up in your grill when necessary. You'll be lucky to get double digit assists from him, but he'd add a good amount of toughness to the back end and won't be afraid to drop the gloves when called upon.

With free agency starting tomorrow, this is the end of our short preview series, so it's your last chance to tell me how wrong I am about these players. Though it might all be a moot point if the team manages to ink Ehrhoff by the end of the day.

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