It’s an all too familiar time of year for Sabres fans. Catching glimpses of the playoffs. Today we talk about off season pickups via free agency because finding reliable defenseman is one of Buffalo’s biggest concerns this offseason.
It’s still early to look at free agency, but we’ve focused on three defensive unrestricted free agents that may be available come July 1.
Alzner’s durability and stature would add a top 4 defenseman right off the bat. Alzner, who is 28 years old, stands 6’3″ and 219 lbs and is known as a shutdown defender. Durability shouldn’t be an issue as Alzner played 599 consecutive games, including playoffs. He has been sidelined since Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs this year with an upper-body injury, however is skating with the Capitals and hopes to be ready for round 2.
His offensive efficiency is lacking, but with 692 blocked shots and 433 hits in the last four years, he brings the defensive stats you look for. Rumors have Alzner commanding $5-6 million per year, but keep an eye out for a contract around $4.5-4.75 per year if the Sabres can swing a long-term deal.
Michael Del Zotto
Flyers GM Ron Hextall has already made it clear that Del Zotto will not be back next year and will hit the open market. Del Zotto has not played a full season in his eight year NHL career and earned the nickname DelZaster during his stint with the Rangers.
Given his injury history and gaffs during games, the Sabres could offer a short term, “prove it” contract under $1 million per year. While Guhle or Nelson could push and potentially make the roster next year, this move might unlikely, but with the pressure of missing the playoffs again this year, anything could happen.
Michael Stone is a 6’3″ 200 lbs right-handed defenseman who hits as hard as his name implies. Earlier this year, Arizona traded Stone to the Flames for a 2017 3rd round pick and a conditional 5th rounder in 2018.
His stats for the past season weren’t top 2 pairing (15 points, 3 goals, 12 assists) and has been somewhat turnover prone the past 2 seasons. However, he wasn’t getting much help defensively while in Arizona. His last contract was 1-year at $4 million with the Coyotes, which may have been a bit of a reach. At only 26 years old, a 2-3 year contract averaging around $3 million per year isn’t out of the question.
Let us know your thoughts on these three players and who, if any, would make the best addition to the blue line next year.