Free Agents, Part 2

Part Two
L.A. Kings
Free Agency:
Left Wing –  Fredrick Modin – Just one you think Modin won’t be able to find a job this summer, he has a tremendous post-season with the Kings.  Honestly one of their most solid contributors in their 6 playoff games with 3 goals (more than any Sabre). Still with just 11 points in 44 games with Columbus, Modin’s pay will drop to about 1 mil. per year.

Will probably play a role similar to Miro Satan in this up-coming season. No thank you though; I don’t need your services in Buffalo.
Left Wing – Alexander Frolov – Another disappointing season for Frolov came at the wrong time with him being a free agent.  Usually players have their best year in contract years, but with Fro it’s the exact opposite.  The man who had 71 points in 2006-07, had just 51 this past season.

His goal total dropped from 32 to 19 even though he played in four more games this season.  Russians are too risky these days in the NHL.  Not too many can survive under NHL coaches such as Lindy Ruff.  Sabres will almost definitely pass on Frolov because for one he is too inconsistent, and for another; since this free agency class is so weak, he will be overpaid.  Great potential still in the right situation with his prime year’s right ahead of him at the age of 28.
Center – Jeff Halpern – I was once interested in Jeff Helpern, but now I see him as nothing more than a great fourth line center.  Gaustad fits that role even better.  I need a little more production out of Halpern if he is going to be my number 3 center.  Will be signed by some contending team though.
Defense – Sean O’Donnell – Veteran back end defensive defenseman who is really getting up there in age.

The former Cup champion with the Ducks back in 2007 will find a job similar to what Montador does for the Sabres.  There is no doubt that the Sabres aren’t interested though.  Montador is one of the best bottom pair D-men in the league imo.
Kings might have some interest in Derek Roy with Patty Marleau being off the market now.  Dustin Brown or Jack Johnson would be a great addition to the Sabres.  Doubtful it will happen though.  Michael Handzus fills the third line perfectly for the Kings, but for 4 mil. against the cap this year, he is way too pricey.  Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds are two of my favorites, but I don’t see any of them being moved.

Minnesota Wild
Free Agency:
Right Wing – Owen Nolan – Oh what a veteran this man is.  Former Sharks captain is a born leader and grinder.  With 33 points this past year, I’m not sure he provides anything more than what Mike Grier brings to the table.  Won’t get much money, but will have plenty of interest.
Right Wing – Petr Sykora – No thank you, that’s all.
Left Wing – Derek Boogard – One of the toughest men in the NHL.  He is an absolute beast.  Wouldn’t look bad on a line next to Goose and Kaleta.  At 6’8, he has quite impressive size, but with two career goals in 5 NHL seasons, he isn’t going to give you anything up front.  The poor guy hasn’t scored in four years.  PASS please, Mancari even gives way more.
Defense – Shane Hnidy – Will wait a while until he can find a job.  It might not be in the NHL though.  7th D-man at best.
Andrew Brunette is a very good trade option if Minny is willing to deal him.  He only makes 2.33 mil. and still produces 61 points IN MINNESOTA!  What a great veteran player he is and what a nice addition he would be for a second line.

He could move Jochen back down to third line left wing.  If they didn’t ask for Kassian, I would look into Brunette for sure.  Cal Clutterbuck  is an RFA.  If I’m Minny though, I keep him because guys like he and Kaleta are not very easy to find.  Brent Burns might be traded.  I always liked his potential.  Overpaid at a young age though.  Still a pp D-man?

Montreal Canadiens
Free agency:
Center – Dominic Moore – Been there and tried that.  It didn’t work out, even though I wish we would have tried for at least one more year.  He is a decent third line forward and will be signed a lot faster than last off-season.  Probably wouldn’t want to come back though.
Center – Glenn Metropolit – After being claimed on waivers from the Flyers two years ago, Metro had a nice season tallying 16 goals and 29 points.  He will still find room in the NHL for his knack of scoring timely goals.  A real nice fourth line center.  Not talented enough to be a third line center a good team though.
Defense – Paul Mara – Really declining since a great 2005-06 campaign with the Coyotes.  Unfortunately for him, 2006 was a while ago.  He won’t have much interest at all and might be looking to Europe for a spot.
After signing Thomas Plekanec, Montreal’s off-season got a lot more “boring.”  So far I do have to commend them in their moves.  Plekanec is one of my favorite players and would have been my top target this off-season for the Sabres.

Imagine a power play genius, who can shut down the best forwards, and is just now entering the prime of his career.  That is Plekanec for ya.  I also give strong amends for keeping Price over Halak because even though Halak was the man for the Habs this past season, I still believe Price will be the better goalie this year, and for years to come.  A much cheaper option for now as well.

Nashville Predators
Free agency:
Goalie – Dan Ellis – My favorite goalie on the market will probably find a starting gig.  Maybe with the Flyers.  I would love to see him back up Ryan Miller though.  Would solve the back-up problem right away.  Might make Enroth expendable as a prospect as well.
Hornqvist had a great year and is an RFA.  He will make around four million a year.  WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE J.P. Dumont back to the Sabres?!?!?!  I certainly would. He is the one guy besides Drury that I miss the most. Jason Arnott would have been nice. But he was a pricey one year option that we passed on. Hopefully there will be a better player in the fold for the Sabres in a trade anyways.

New Jersey Devils
Free agency:
Left Wing – Ilya Kovalchuk – Top player on the market, who is a superstar for sure.  He isn’t the kind of player that would fit in Lindy Ruff’s system though and that is why we passed on him at the trade deadline.  Will be asking for upwards of 8 mil. a year.  Will not be a Buffalo Sabre.  Total pipe dream!  Maybe a King though with Patty Marleau off the market

Center/Lw – Rob Niedermayer – One was my favorite players is getting up there in age.  With his bro retiring, Rob may not be far away either.  I would have had interest in him two years ago, but know he will sign somewhere cheap to provide depth, and Stanley Cup experience.  Isn’t even a good third liner anymore.
Defense – Paul Martin – One of the top D-men on the market and one of the best American defenseman as well.  He was hurt in case you’re wondering why he didn’t play for team USA.  This guy is very consistent and reliable.  I really can’t see Uncle Lou letting him go though.

He might not be a long term fix for the power play and he might not be that physical defensive defenseman you so desire, but he is one of the best all around D-men in the league.  Will be looking for slightly more money, probably around 4.5.
Defense – Mike Mottau – Former Hobey Baker winner is another cheap option for a team looking for D depth.  Won’t give you too much though.  I still like him though and would at least check in, if we run tight on money/salary cap room.
Acquired Jason Arnott

New York Islanders
Free agency:
Left Wing – Jon Sim and Right Wing Richard Park – Quality fourth line forwards who will come very cheap and won’t being wearing Blue or Gold in Buffalo.
Defense – Freddy Meyer – Always liked his potential, but isn’t needed on a team with Chris Butler, and Andrej Sekera already underachieving.
Goalie – Martin Biron – Our old buddy Marty is available Again.  This time Buffalo will actually give him some respect.  I expect Marty to come quite cheap unless a team like Montreal swoops in to offer him more than we are willing to spend on another goalie.  I would say around the same as Grier money at 1.4 a year.  Probably would only get a one year deal, unless Enroth is moved at the draft.
The Islanders have two players I would love to try and acquire.  One is Forward Trent Hunter.  If there was ever the perfect forward for the Buffalo Sabres, Trent Hunter is that guy.  He gives size, grit, and actually does all the things we want Stafford to do.  Doesn’t have great offensive potential, but could give 20 goals in a good year.  Third line/checking line wingman.  He is signed at a decent 2 mil. a year for 3 more years.
The one power play D-man I want the most in the league is MARK STREIT.  The Swiss-born D-man is just solid as a rock.  Being a former forward in all, he produces great numbers, and has a booming shot from the point.  We should have gone after him when he was a free agent two years ago.  We would be lucky if the Islanders even considered trading him.

He doesn’t lack defensively what Campbell and Kaberle do, yet he still can put up nearly 50 points at age 32.  Even though he is getting older, he may just be entering his prime years as this will be only his fifth full season of NHL play and third as a full-time D-man.  Captained Switzerland at the Olympics and was one of the best D-men in the tourney.  I love Swiss defenseman.  Luca Sbisa and Yannick Weber are the next two great ones.

New York Rangers
Free Agency:
Center – Olli Jokinen – The Finnish-born center man was once considered to be a star in the NHL when he played for the Florida Panthers. He was a top ten center man and has gone from one of the hottest commodities to a very risky free agent. He will be passed on by many other teams.  I however, believe Olli might be the steal of the free agent class.

Let’s face it; Olli will not make more than four million on the open market. In a terrible year, he had 50 points. I just am not sure that Lindy would be able revive his career though, so he would have to come around three milion for no more than three years for me to even think about it. Very doubtful, but we used to always be interested come deadline time when his name popped up.
Left Wing – Vaclav Prospal – He is a free agent for another season believe it or not.  After being bought out by Tampa Bay and signed for cheap by the Rangers, Vinny had a decent year.  In fact, he was one of the most reliable Rangers with 58 points.  While he is getting older at 35, he does offer some versatile, and is almost a guarantee for 40 points.
Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are due for major raises. Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival have two of the worst contract in all of the NHL, but the Rangers will have to somehow find a way to lock both Dan and Marc up long term. If they can’t Girardi might be shopped. I do like his game a lot and I think he will continue to improve into a quality top-4 D-man.

Now Chris Drury is still a Ranger, but since he was my favorite player, and even though he is overpaid by over 3 million dollars per year; I can’t resist the temptation of possibly acquiring Dru back.  I know he isn’t what he used to be, but put him back into the position he was comfortable here, and watch him tally 25 goals and over 50 points again.

If Scott Gomez can be traded, anyone can. The only way this happens is if Pominville is sent back to New York in a trade.  Drury would only make two million more than Pommer and would provide a lot of things I feel we are missing up front. His horrid contract does only last for two more years, so it isn’t like it will stranglehold us for when Myers and Ennis contracts are up. I know it will not happen, but if this miracle did happen; I would be the happiest person in the world. Defenseman and college gem Matt Gilroy could be moved as well.

Ottawa Senators
Free Agency:
Center – Matt Cullen – Two-way player that has really impressed me over the last two years. Seems to becoming more valuable as he gets older. Could fit into a third-line center hole perfectly. Decent on face-offs and decent physically. Doesn’t really have one weak spot in his game anymore. Having a nice playoff for the Sens as their number 2 center will make him a wanted man on July 1st.

16 goals and 48 points in 81 regular season games between Ottawa and Carolina and at the age of 33, Cullen steps up in pressure situations.  Eight points in six playoff games this past year and he does have a Stanley Cup ring. Cullen is one of the top three centers remaining in the free agency pool. He will get over three million a year.
Defense – Anton Volchenkov – The best D-man on the market come July 1st will rack up the big bucks.  He is one of the best shot blockers in the NHL right now and in his era to tell the truth. There is no doubt he will be overpaid, but I guarantee the team that signs him will love him either way. He is a top pair, shut-down man who would in fit perfectly next to Myers.

He will be looking for over five million a year though, so he will be out of our range if we want to upgrade at the forward position as well.
Spezza could be dealt out west, but a deal isn’t very likely to happen.

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