With free agency this weekend, I took some time to answer some questions from our readers.
Do you think Vanek wants to come back? Do the Sabres want him back?
— Kyle Johnson (@KJ3577) June 26, 2018
Answer: I believe Thomas Vanek would love to return to Buffalo if he got the opportunity. In a previous work experience I interacted with Vanek and he said he loved living in the area.
Now would the Sabres want him back? It would be the slimmest of possibilities at this point. Jason Botterill is big about building with youth and speed. If you look at the young core he is assembling and drafting, these are players that can skate very well with their best days to come.
Vanek is neither of those at this point. He had a really nice season last year and he will have a bit of a market given that he still can put up 20 goals a year.
The only way I could see Buffalo signing Vanek is if he would take a really low deal money-wise, which is unlikely given he will fetch somewhere between 2-4 million in free agency. Additionally, I think Botterill wants to give young guys like Justin Bailey, Alex Nylander, and Nicholas Baptiste a chance for a roster spot rather then a veteran.
Answer: This is a phrase a lot of fans were saying by the end of last season all the way to now.
I get the fan frustration with the team and Housley was the coach of this last place unit. That said, getting rid of a coach after just a single season, after you just fired the previous coach when he barely got two years, is a bad precedent and environment to create both inside the organization and externally.
Firing another coach that quickly signals to the players they run the show. If you’re a prospective candidate why would you choose Buffalo if your going to be shown the door after a year?
Housley has his faults as a coach after last year. I hated the fact the power play went from being an asset to a major liability. There were nights when the team looked as though they mailed it in, and from my understanding practices were comical with the effort and organization at points.
I think he will be on a tight leash and if the team is a near the bottom again by Christmas he will most likely be let go. Also, a coach can’t be faulted when Rasmus Ristolainen is forcing passes where they shouldn’t be or when a forward like Johan Larsson is just skating around not picking up his player in the defensive zone. The players are a major piece in this rebuild, too.
Question: Who are your top, value, bargain free agents for the Sabres to target? -Max
We posted an article looking at free agency here: Free Agent Article
Here are a few free agents though I would like to see Buffalo consider:
Top: Jay Beagle C WAS – He will have a market, but he has tremendous value as a 3rd line center and would be a decent replacement assuming ROR leaves so Mittlestadt isn’t forced too hard into the 2nd center spot early on.
Value: Michael Grabner RW NJ – Incredibly fast winger who would be a nice threat to break loose. I think you could get him at value contract wise even with teams competing for him.
Bargain: Mark Letestu C CBJ – Bargain guy the whole way through, but he would be the cheaper version of Beagle and still puts up 10-12 goals a year.