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Mailbag: Free Agency

Would Vanek come to Buffalo? Could Housley be on the hot seat with slow start?

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With free agency this weekend, I took some time to answer some questions from our readers. 

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.

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NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
Z8254-23-5113
X8250-20-12112
X8249-26-7105
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
Y8249-26-7105
X8247-29-6100
X8242-26-1498
Wild Card leaders:
X8245-30-797
X8244-29-997
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8244-30-896
8236-35-1183
8235-37-1080
8234-39-977
8230-39-1373
8229-40-1371
8228-43-1167
8225-45-1262
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
P8253-18-11117
X8252-20-10114
X8245-26-11101
Pacific Division Leaders:
Y8251-24-7109
X8244-25-13101
X8245-27-10100
Wild Card leaders:
X8245-29-898
X8243-30-995
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8244-32-694
8242-32-892
8237-35-1084
8236-40-678
8233-39-1076
8231-40-1173
8229-41-1270