NHL Free Agency: What Do The Buffalo Sabres Need

With NHL free agency starting on Friday, let's take a look at what the Buffalo Sabres might be doing come July 5.

Yesterday, we looked at the changes in this year's free agency process thanks to the lockout and the new CBA. Today, we'll talk about some need areas that the Sabres have, and how they might go about addressing them.

Two-way center

The Sabres top two centers last season were Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis, neither of which were known for their defense. Mikhail Grigorenko will be up with the big club all season, and he'll need some time to figure out how to play defense in the NHL as well. Between those three, that's plenty of offense at the pivot, but not much in the way of protecting your own end.

Yes, the Sabres have Kevin Porter, but in a perfect world, he really shouldn't be playing anywhere but the fourth line, or the third in a pinch. Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson aren't ready to contribute yet. That leaves a big hole in the Sabres system for a guy who can play a 200 foot game down the middle, but it's a hole they'll only have for another year or two as their solid center prospects mature.

Possible Targets: Patrik Elias, Manny Malhotra, Stephen Weiss

Scoring Winger

If Thomas Vanek gets traded, as most expect, the Buffalo Sabres #1 scoring threat on the wing will be Drew Stafford. Take a second and read that sentence again. Yeah, there's Leino, Foligno, Flynn, and Ott, but which one of those guys do you want taking over on the top line? Not an enticing prospect.

The Sabres will need to bring in at least one or two veteran wingers simply to fill out the roster, so they might as well bring in someone who can score, otherwise you're looking at a whole lot of 2-1 games next season. Wait, asn't that what we had this season?

Possible Targets: Brenden Morrow, Daniel Briere, Nathan Horton, Clarke MacArthur

Veteran Defenseman

Aside from Christian Ehrhoff, and with Andrej Sekera gone, every expected starting defenseman on the Sabres next season is currently age 25 or under. Since the team has let Sulzer walk, and might do the same with Pardy, there is almost no experienced blueliner to help keep things steady were Ehrhoff to go down with an injury.

Yeah, we all want the young kids to play, but it doesn't hurt to have another wise, experienced player manning the back end. He doesn't have to be Craig Rivet or Robyn Regehr, but another veteran back there would really make me, at least, feel even better about the seemingly good defensive depth.

Possible Targets: Andrew Ference, Rob Scuderi, Toni Lydman, Ian White

I don't think the Sabres will necessarily target these exact players, but they're the type of players I think could help the Sabres at need areas. What do you guys think?