Mar 31, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold (3) skates out with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Sabres 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
With the apparent contract extension of Alexander Sulzer, it leaves the Buffalo Sabres with another logjam at defense with seven NHL ready defensemen on the current payroll and another seemingly ready defenseman waiting in the wings. As we have seen in the past, having eight or nine NHL ready defensemen is not a bad thing with the string of injuries that the team has suffered in the past few years. With that said, it gives the team a chance to move a defenseman to clear up some cap space or make some moves to bolster the roster. Here are the defensemen that are most likely to be moved.
Jordan Leopold ($3,000,000 cap hit, UFA after 2012-2013 season)
Leopold seems like the ideal candidate for a team that would want a solid defenseman that can contribute 20 points a season. A nine year veteran, Leopold had 10 goals and 14 assists in 79 games last season for the Sabres. His offensive zone start percentage of 52.5% was third among defensemen that played at least five games for the Sabres.
Leopold will probably not be moved in the offseason, but depending on how the team performs next season, could be a good rental player for a team looking to contend for a playoff spot.
Mike Weber ($950,000 cap hit, RFA after 2012-2013 season)
Mike Weber has often been the odd man out in the Sabres defensive rotation as there have always seemed to be more credible defensemen to play in his spot. Weber has played no more than 58 games in a season, that coming in the 2010-2011 season. Last year, Weber had one goal and four assists in 51 games and was a team worst -19 as well.
Weber could be a useful young defenseman with some limited upside for a team looking to rebuild and could be a throw in piece as part of a deal to essentially sweeten the pot much like Chris Butler was in the Robyn Regher deal.
Brayden McNabb ($900,000 cap hit on entry-level contract, RFA after 2013-14 season)
Brayden McNabb made a little headway with the Sabres at the end of last season as he was an adequate defensive replacement when the Sabres ran through their string of injuries. At this point though, it would appear that McNabb would have to start the season in Rochester with the logjam at defense that already exists. In 25 games last year, McNabb had one goal and eight assists with the big club and in Rochester he had five goals and 25 points in 45 games.
For McNabb to be traded, the Sabres would have to be pursuing something big as McNabb is currently listed as the second best prospect in the organization according to Hockeys Future.