It's time to switch gears a little bit and take a look at the Sabres long list of free agents after the season. The Sabres still haven't figured out if they are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline but why can't they be both. Take a look at guys on your roster that will help you make a run at the Stanley Cup and some that may not. If a player is not part of your future plans and will not help you get to the Stanley Cup...see if another team has a use for him.
Money is going to be an issue for the Sabres as they move forward. They have committed plenty of money to what has been termed the "Core" of the team. The problem is, not all the core players are playing at the level they were signed at. Jochen Hecht immediately comes to mind as a player that is eating up alot of salary and not producing. As much as I like Paul Gaustad, I'm not sure he is a $2.5 million player.
Next year this team will have an entirely different look but the biggest question is...what will they look like after the March 4 trade deadline. As fans we are always concerned with the here and now but Darcy Regier has to look beyond this season and look at next season when he makes trades. Money will be the biggest obstacle when looking at next years roster. That means that some of the Sabres key players may not be here next season because there is no room to sign him.
I'm not going to speculate on who will or won't be traded but instead just list the impending free agents and let you comment away.
Unrestricted Free Agent
|2008 - Maxim Afinogenov||34||2||10||12||-14||12||0||0||0||0||64||3.1|
Max has struggled the entire season and is termed by many to be a bust. He is still one of the most electric players on the ice and every time he touches the puck the crowd rises to their feet. There may be a team that is willing to take a chance on him but the return will be minimal.
Trade Value : Low
|2008 - Ales Kotalik||46||10||16||26||-2||24||5||0||1||0||128||7.8|
He too would be termed as a career underachiever but has some intangibles. Kotalik is almost automatic in the shootout which could help earn some valuable points down the stretch. He has also excelled on the power play, another important area come playoff time.
Trade Value : Moderate
|2008 - Tim Connolly||19||11||8||19||4||2||2||1||3||0||50||22.0|
Teams would obviously be afraid of his injury history but there is no denying his amazing skill level. Connolly is one of the best players in the league when he is healthy. Any team in playoff contention would love to have Connolly on their roster. There are reports that the Sabres are trying to sign Tim Connolly prior to the trade deadline.
Trade Value : High
|2008 - Jaroslav Spacek||51||3||21||24||1||18||2||0||0||0||69||4.3|
He is a different player than he was when he came to Buffalo. He was known as a power play specialist that was a liability in his own zone. His power play points have dropped dramatically but he has become a better player in his own zone under Lindy Ruff. He is a plus player and has often been relied upon to play against the opponents top line.
Trade Value - Moderate
|2008 - Teppo Numminen||47||2||13||15||-3||20||1||0||1||0||29||6.9|
Teppo is the consummate veteran. Unfortunately he has lost a step over the years and isn't the player he once was. There is a chance that a team that needed depth on the blue line could be interested in a player like Numminen.
Trade Value - Low
|2008 - Andrew Peters||26||0||1||1||-2||81||0||0||0||0||10||0.0|
Peters is a typical "Goon". He brings almost nothing to the game except his ability to fight the other teams tough guys. Players like Peters are usually a healthy scratch at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
Trade Value - None
|2008 - Matt Ellis||29||4||2||6||2||8||0||0||1||0||38||10.5|
Ellis has been impressive as a role player since being recalled from Portland. He is responsible in his own end and he brings a ton of energy to the ice. I was down on Ellis in the early part of the season but he has impressed me over the past month or so.
Trade Value - Low
That does it for the Unrestricted Free Agents. I will have a post up with the Restricted free agents either later tonight or early tomorrow. Of the players listed...who gets traded and who doesn't? Who has value and who has none? I want to hear your thoughts on the upcoming free agency and trade deadline. Will the Sabres trade anyone away? Will they sign players before the trade deadline? There is plenty of info to digest but that is why this is the best part of the year.