With the recent trade deadline deals many are wondering what exactly the Sabres plan on doing. Will they try to keep Vanek? Miller? Can they keep either past next year? How long and serious of a rebuild are we in for? Are we going to tank Edmonton style or do we think CoHo, Myers, Ennis, and company form the basis for a new core?
I think the Sabres don't need to tank for very long at all. They have a young team and some promising prospects. However, the UFA pool is pretty uninspiring and that usually isn't a great way to build a winner. If the Sabres want to keep with the youth movement they have 3 options: trades, patience (waiting out existing contracts, developing prospects, letting current young players mature), and RFAs. The Sabres have an additional second round pick in each of the next 3 drafts, and an additional first in this coming draft. These picks can't be used in RFA compensation, but they would ameliorate the pain of losing several picks. Adding RFAs might be enough to show the veterans that the team is going to try to compete soon if we want to retain them and avoid the possibility of a protracted rebuild.
So far I have been unable to find information on the new RFA rules, but lists of changes in the new CBA seem to indicate that they probably work roughly the same way they did before. Presumably the compensation thresholds will all be lower to reflect the lower cap, but market value should also drop, again due to the lower cap.
This year RFAs include Sam Gagner, Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Bogosian, Nazem Kadri, Adam Henrique, and Derek Stepan. An offer sheet of about 6 million should only need a first, second, and third rounder by my estimate. From there up to probably just under 8 million per year is 2 firsts a second and a third. We can easily afford that and still have a decent draft. The question then becomes should we. That is the question I pose. Should we pursue an RFA this offseason, and if so who?