As promised I will be breaking down each and every free agent from last seasons roster. I will begin with the restricted free agents and I will conclude with the unrestricted free agents.
LW Daniel Paille- 6'0", 197 lbs.
07-08 77GP 19G-16A-35P 14 PIM
career 120GP 23G-26A-49P 34 PIM
It took four professional seasons for Daniel Paille to live up to his first round draft selection but 2007-2008 was a career year for Paille. He had career highs in goals (19), assists (16) and points (35) in his first full season in the NHL. Prior to last season he had career totals of four goals and 10 assists in 43 games played at the NHL level. When Paille came to the Sabres organization he came with high expectations after playing in the 2002 CHL Top Prospects Game. He followed up the 2002 campaign with his best season while playing for Guelph in the OHL.
Paille has grown into a very good defensive player and he can also play a physical style. In 2007-2008 he was a plus nine and he is a plus 19 in his NHL career. He is also an outstanding penalty killer for the Sabres, adding some offensive skill to compliment his defensive talent. Paille had three short-handed goals last season, tying him with Derek Roy for the team lead.
Paille came out of Juniors as a first round pick with offensive talent but it took him four pro seasons to show any signs of offense. Paille could still become a good offensive player but there is always the risk that he could be an underachiever. Paille has also struggled a little bit with his consistency, he found himself watching some games from the press box because of being in Lindy Ruff's doghouse. Paille found himself bouncing around the second, third and fourth lines because of a lack of consistency, he averaged only 13 minutes and 27 seconds which is below what a typical third line player would play.
The Sabres realize what they have in Paille and they will sign him to a new contract over the summer. I expect the contract to be a two year deal because the Sabres will be reluctant to commit longer to Paille and I would presume that Paille will hope to receive a big contract in a couple of seasons. His price tag may have increased because of his 19 goal season but the fact remains that he hasn't done a whole lot in his career until last season.
The Sabres lack of depth at Left Wing will surely be considered when the Sabres are negotiating with Paille. Thomas Vanek is the top line Left Wing but beyond that it's anyones guess. Jochen Hecht switched from Left Wing to Center last season but he could move back if necessary and Ales Kotalik is still on the roster, although he is in the last year of a contract. If things go well for Paille he could easily become a top six forward in the next couple of seasons.
Verdict: Will re-sign