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Who Should The Sabres Target in Free Agency?

While the Buffalo Sabres have given fans plenty of hints suggesting they expect to be bad in 2013-14, the reality is there doesn't have to a drawn out rebuilding process in Buffalo. They might not be ready to win the Stanley Cup in 2014, but the Sabres sure don't have to be like the poorly-managed, top-pick machine that is the Edmonton Oilers.

There is a salary cap and 16 of 30 teams make the post-season. Any team can have a quick turnaround. In fact, with the talent they already have and a few savvy moves, Buffalo could be a playoff competitor again next season.

In order to become a playoff team again, however, they'll have to do more than move up in the draft. The Sabres will have to add veteran players via free agency to their roster.

But who's out there to grab? It isn't like the league's hottest free agents are clamoring to drop by a 12th place, small market team. Sure there are a few well-known players on the free agent market such as Jerome Iginla, Patrik Elias, David Clarkson, Nathan Horton and Mike Ribero, but overall it's hard to imagine any of them suiting up for Buffalo next season.

But there are players who could be acquired by the Sabres and help them get back to the post-season in 2014.

Before identifying the players that Buffalo could reasonably sign, we need to identify the team's weaknesses and how they can fill those voids.

The Sabres certainly aren't the most mentally or physically tough team and they were terrible on special teams last season. But more than anything, their biggest downfall was rooted in being ranked last in the National Hockey League in possession in 2013. The two Cup contenders? They are No. 2 and No. 4.

It isn't rocket science. The best teams dominate the puck. The current Sabres roster is made up of players who do not dominate the puck.

So the Sabres will need to target players who will help them improve puck possession.

Of course, Datsyuk, Crosby, Toews and Kopitar made that job easier for the last four Cup winners. The Sabres can only acquire a player of that caliber through a mega trade or high draft pick.

But how about players like Jason Williams? Michael Frolik? Alexei Ponikarovsky or Mikael Samuelsson? Those players may not have been the stars of the show, but they were strong puck possession players who helped their Cup-winning teams to possession dominance.

There are players like Williams, Frolik, Ponikarovsky and Samuelsson in free agency this summer. There are a few quality "stars" out there, too.

Here are the players the Sabres SHOULD consider:

(Rankings are based on whether players would fit the Sabres' needs and would come at a reasonable price for the player's value. Corsi Rel = possession. Quality of Competition (QoC) rankings are based on position and are qualified for sample size. Players were selected by likelihood they could actually end up in Buffalo and reader interest in analysis. The chart under statistics goes as follows:

*Also, a stick tap to Ryan Stimson for his assistance on creating charts. Follow him @RK_Stimp*

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank

1) F Stephen Weiss

The Good: Weiss was once considered an outstanding center who could be used in all situations and score 50-60 points per season. He is a No. 1 on a bad team and No. 2 on a good team.

The Bad: Weiss is coming off a season-ending injury and is considered somewhat of an underachiever for being the former fourth-overall pick. He hasn't posted great possession stats in a few years and was flat-out bad when trying to play through injury earlier in 2013.

The Stats: 17 games, 1 goal, 3 assists, minus-13

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 30 -15.5 57.4% 4
2012 29 -2.2 55.6% 4
2011 28 0.1 47.6% 3

Probability of signing: Since he was hurt last season, it seems likely his value is way down from what it would have been a year ago. He'll go to the highest bidder.

Opinion: If the Sabres could get Weiss on a three year deal or less, it would be a great buy low, sell high proposition. At 30, Weiss isn't over the hill and (when at his best) is the type of two-way player they've needed at No. 2 center. Signing him would significantly increase their chances at being a playoff team next season, especially if he feels he has something to prove. It's worth looking into.

2) D Toni Lydman

The Good: Since leaving Buffalo, not much has changed in Lydman's game. He's still smart, reliable and has the ability to take on the best of the best. Three seasons ago, it could be argued he was one of the best stay-at-home defenseman in the league. In 2010-11, he was plus-32. Lydman can kill penalties and is physical.

The Bad: He's 35 and coming off an injury-filled season. Lydman also won't offer much offense.

The Stats: 35 games, 0 goals, 6 assists, minus-1.

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 35 5.7 47.7% 4
2012 34 -10.7 44.4% 3
2011 33 9.2 42.9% 1

Probability of signing: For a multi-year deal, he could be had. Though the Ducks have been pleased with his play.

Opinion: Lydman would be well received by Buffalo fans. He is a very good all-around defenseman and might make a heck of a pair for a year or two with Christian Ehrhoff or Andrej Sekera. If he wants out, he'd be worth a two-year deal.

3) F Ryane Clowe

The Good: Clowe would bring size, toughness, puck possession skills and a scoring touch to the bottom six. He's on the back end of his career and isn't the scorer he was a few years ago, but you could still expect in the range of 30 to 40 points

The Bad: At 30, he's on the back end of his prime. Clowe didn't produce in 2013 like he did in the past with the Sharks. There's a chance he could see a serious drop in production as he makes his way into his mid-30s. Clowe also is not much of a penalty killer like many of his peers who play a similar role.

The Stats: 40 games, 3 goals, 19 assists, plus-1

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 7.5 52.3% 5
2012 28 2.2 57.2% 5
2011 27 13.5 50.7% 9

Probability of signing: Like Horton, Clowe will likely draw enough interest from the league's best teams that it would be difficult for the Sabres to make a play for him.

Opinion: He's worth overpaying, but not by as much as it will take to keep him away from the league's best teams

4) F Clarke MacArthur

The Good: MacArthur is the best “bang for your buck” free agent on the market pre-buyouts. He has turned into a darn good second/third line forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He can score somewhere in the range of 40-60 points, score on a second line power play unit and provide solid puck possession – assuming he's not your answer to, “who's going to shut down Crosby?”

The Bad: He comes with the “Hecht Effect.” MacArthur, like Hecht, would be a fine signing. But he'd bring out the “but he was already here so he has to be worse than people who weren't here” crowd.

The Stats:

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 28 16.2 45.7% 12
2012 27 7.2 52.8% 2
2011 26 19.3 49.5% 8

Probability of signing: MacArthur is over-shadowed in Toronto by Kadri, Bozak etc. and isn't given the credit he deserves for strong performances three years in a row. They might want him back, but with a stacked farm system, it seems plausible he could be had for a fairly cheap price. Would he want to come back to Buffalo? Tough to say.

Opinion: If his name was Billy Smith, we'd be pushing for the Sabres to offer him a deal

5) F Alexi Ponikarovsky

The Good: The veteran forward is a tremendous puck possession player. He's an effort player who is always moving his feet in the defensive end and has the unique ability to read plays and keep the puck in the offensive zone to increase his team's chances to score. While he isn't physically dominant, his effort and possession skills make him difficult for opponents to handle.

The Bad: He doesn't score much these days and is 36-years-old.

The Stats: 42 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, minus-1

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 36 4.4 56.9% 9
2012 35 11.2 46.8% 7
2011 34 1.9 52.1% 3

Probability of signing: The Devils traded for him after he signed in Winnipeg in the off-season. It wouldn't be a shock to see him re-signed. However, if the Sabres offered a him a multi-year deal, it's likely he could be drawn away from N.J.

Opinion: Sign the man. He'd make for a pretty solid upgrade on the third or fourth lin

6) F Kyle Wellwood

The Good: Wellwood is a very strong puck possession, two-way player who has been a power play producer in the past – once registering 19 assists in one season. He's also one of the best faceoff men in the NHL with a career 55.2%.

The Bad: The 29-year-old center is fit for a third line, but can't handle big minutes or the league's toughest centers. He'll score some points, but won't add any more than 30 to 40 and isn't a physically dominant player.

The Stats: 39 games, 6 goals, 9 assists, even

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 30 3.0 48.0% 7
2012 29 15.8 60.5% 8
2011 28 18.5 51.3% 11

Probability of signing: Wellwood's been with four different teams during his career. It seems likely he could be signed for the right price

Opinion: Might have to give him a few more dollars to get him away from Winnipeg, but he could help improve lower line possession and add decent point production

7) D Grant Clitsome

The Good: The 6-foot, 210-pound stay-at-home defenseman is a good decision maker with good puck possession numbers in a small sample size. He's reliable on the ice against good competition and can add to a team's third pair and fill in on the second or first when called upon.

The Bad: Clitsome played a full season for the first time in 2013 – and it was a shortened year. He won't add a ton of offense or eat up 20-plus minutes per game. He won't be a first-unit penalty killer but can play on a second unit and won't see power play time.

The Stats: 44 games, 4 goals, 12 assists

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 2.3 49.4% 5
2012 26 -0.2 49.7% 6
2011 25 -0.4 63.0% 4

Probability of signing: Like Wellwood, he's probably a piece the Jets might like back but could be had for a reasonable price.

Opinion: He'd make for a very solid fourth or fifth defenseman for Buffalo

8) D Bobby Sanguinetti

The Good: The former first-round pick had outstanding possession numbers in his first “full” season in the NHL. Sanguinetti flashed some physical play and was a second-unit penalty killer for the Hurricanes. While he didn't score a lot in the NHL in 2013, he put up strong numbers in the AHL. At 26, he may be coming into his own as a defenseman and end up as a low-risk, high-reward type pickup.

The Bad: The Hurricanes protected Sanguinetti, keeping him away from the league's best and using him largely in the offensive zone and against weak competition. That suggests they didn't trust him in high-leverage defensive situations

The Stats: 37 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, minus-6

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 25 16.1 62.1% 7

Probability of signing: It depends on whether the Hurricanes see him as part of their long-term plan. If not, it shouldn't take a large dollar figure to bring him in

Opinion: Low risk, high reward. Worth considering.

9) D Adam Pardy

The Good: The Sabres got Pardy as a part of the Steve Ott deal – likely not expecting much. But when he was finally given a chance in the NHL, Pardy was one of the Sabres' more stable D-men. He's got size and can really skate for a guy that big. He's good in his own end with outlet passes and quick decisions. Pardy has also had very solid possession statistics for most of his career. He's also appeared to be a good locker room guy, too.

The Bad: Pardy isn't going to score much. He also isn't your guy to kill a ton of penalties or be on the ice against Alex Ovechkin.

The Stats: 17 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, plus-4

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 5.3 46.1% 5
2012 28 -5.2 51.3% 6
2011 27 9.9 59.7% 9

Probability of signing: It seems like Pardy could be brought back for around $1 million on a one or two year deal.

Opinion: It's a bargain for a sixth or seventh defenseman. Bring him back.

10) D Ian White

The Good: White is an all-around defenseman who will make smart decisions in his own end, move the puck well and can add a few points here or there.

The Bad: White isn't big or physical. He won't dominate possession and can't be asked to lock down the opponent's best forwards. He won't add anything on special teams.

The Stats: 25 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, plus-5

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 -0.2 55.2% 5
2012 28 5.7 57.7% 2
2011 27 -0.4 49.4% 6

Probability of signing: White has bounced around a little, shouldn't demand a lot of attention or have a high price.

Opinion: He's a solid player and wouldn't be a bad signing, but there are better sixth defenseman out there. Pass.

11) D Alex Sulzer

The Good: The German native was a nice surprise as a throw-in in the Kassian-for-Hodgson deal. He had instant chemistry with his fellow countrymen Christian Ehrhoff. While it was mostly because of Ehrhoff, the pair still dominated possession and created offensive chances. In small samples, he posted fairly good possession stats during his other stops.

The Bad: His defensive game can be shaky at times. He isn't physical and won't be a big-time penalty killer.

The Stats: 17 games, 3 goals, 1 assist, plus-3

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 17.6 53.8% 7
2012 28 6.4 49.2% 7
2011 27 0.8 53.8% 4

Probability of signing: Sulzer got top-line NHL minutes in Buffalo – something he'd never seen before. If he had a chance to earn minutes with Ehroff again, he'd likely return for cheap.

Opinion: There may be better options, but if Ehrhoff wants him back, it's worth considering.

12) D Marek Zidlicky

The Good: The Czech defenseman can still bring offensive talent to the back end and power play. He's a strong possession defenseman who gets shots through traffic and can still skate at age 36.

The Bad: He's never been a lockdown defenseman and will make his share of defensive mistakes. Don't count on too many crushing hits or time on the penalty kill.

The Stats: 48 games, 4 goals, 15 assists, minus-12

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 36 6.5 59.8% 6
2012 35 7.9 52.8% 7
2011 34 -3.8 46.7% 5

Probability of signing: You'd expect Zidlicky to stay in New Jersey if he's wanted. He'd be unlikely to sign with a non-contender at age 36.

Opinion: The Sabres certainly need help on their power play and a veteran calmness on the back end. If he could be had, it's worth consideration since Zidlicky can offer more than most depth defenseman.

13) F David Clarkson

The Good: Clarkson proved in 2013 that his offensive outburst in 2012 wasn't a fluke. He continued to be a solid offensive producer despite the Devils' struggles to put the puck in the net. Also, he posted outstanding possession stats on one of the best possession teams in the league.

The Bad: Price. Who wouldn't want a big, tough scorer who can keep the puck in your team's zone? But he'll command a big price because of the weak free agent class. He's an awesome part, but he isn't a centerpiece. Clarkson has been given many advantages to score and post possession stats – the Devils have protected him from the hardest situations.

The Stats: 48 games, 15 goals, 9 assists, minus-6

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 16.9 50.8% 10
2012 28 3.1 49.4% 8
2011 27 -0.5 49.3% 10

Probability of signing: Very small that the Sabres could get their hands on him unless they overpay and give him a long-term deal

Opinion: Everyone would like a player like Clarkson on their team, but not at Top 6 price. If he was 24 years old, you might consider it, but at 29 with a lot of miles on his body, the Sabres should pass.

14) F Nathan Horton

The Good: Horton is a consistent offensive producer and puck possession forward. He is a finisher around the net and has historically been a decent power play player.

The Bad: The Bruins' 6-foot-2, 230-pound forward isn't by any means a franchise player – though he'll likely be paid like one. He could help the Sabres not carry them as his projected contract might suggest he could.

The Stats: 43 games, 13 goals, 9 assists, plus-1

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 9.3 60.4% 10
2012 26 16.6 56.0% 9
2011 25 13.3 52.3% 8

Probability of signing: The 28-year-old will likely be overpaid by a contender or re-signed by the Bruins.

Opinion: Trying to sign Horton is worth a try, but certainly an (expensive) long shot.


1) F Tyler Bozak

The Good: Bozak is thought of as a two-way forward who can score between 30 and 50 points. He's one of the league's better faceoff men (which means 53% career, or six per 100 better than a 'bad' faceoff man).

The Bad: When he was used as a depth center instead of a top-line forward, his possession numbers were pretty mediocre. You get the idea that his linemates may have had a lot to do with his bump in points and possession this year. And if he's going to be a top-line center, you want more production than 30 to 50 points. If your goal is to improve possession, this isn't your guy.

The Stats: 46 games, 12 goals, 26 assists, minus-1

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 4.0 44.8% 5
2012 26 -4.9 52.5% 7
2011 25 -2.9 52.4% 10

Probability of signing: It sounds like the highest bidder will get his services.

Opinion: Bozak isn't close to being worth what he'll command on the market. Not. Close. Stay away. You'll get just as much solid two-way play out of Kevin Porter and pay a lot less.

 2) F Bryan Bickell

The Good: Bickell certainly showed up in the post-season for the Blackhawks. He posted strong puck possession statistics this season and can hit, fight and create room for top line players.

The Bad: When he was used as a lock-down forward, he performed poorly in terms of puck possession. He also won't add much more than 30 points in terms of offense.

The Stats: 48 games, 9 goals, 14 assists, plus-12

Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 3.7 58.3% 11
2012 26 -7.7 38.6% 4
2011 25 -16.7 44.5% 3

Probability of signing: The Blackhawks won't pay for him if he demands a high price a la Dustin Byfuglien or Andrew Ladd. He'll likely go to the highest bidder.

Opinion: The Sabres don't need Bickell when they already have Ott and Foligno. And they don't need to overpay a player based on playoff series' in which he played with Jonathan Toews.

Opinion: Not worth the money he'll be asking for in a weak free agent class.

3) F Dustin Penner

The Good: Penner is a very big person. He's physical and has some offensive skills. If he was used in the right circumstances, he could score 40 points.

The Bad: He hasn't stayed healthy and has never lived up to the expectations he set back in 2009-10 when he scored 63 points. He's been a positive possession player, but who on the Kings isn't? At this point, he's a depth forward who will need help to make any bigger impact than an average third or fourth liner.

The Stats: 33 games, 2 goals, 12 assists, minus-2

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 30 0.2 51.6% 8
2012 29 1.0 53.8% 8
2011 28 4.9 49.8% 4

Probability of signing: He can be had. Penner won't demand a ton of interest because of his underwhelming past three seasons.

Opinion: If you have superior size players in Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno, why would you want Dustin Penner? Pass.

4) F Viktor Stalberg

The Good: Stalberg has tremendous puck possession numbers and has added depth scoring to one of the best teams in the league. He's also 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and will occasionally throw it around.

The Bad: He hasn't ever had to face tough competition, play much in the defensive zone and he was benched during the playoffs by one of the best coaches in the NHL.

The Stats: 9 goals, 14 assists, plus-16

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 3.2 63.9% 12
2012 26 11.8 63.6% 6
2011 25 11.0 60.3% 9

Probability of signing: Since he was sat down during much of the post-season, you'd think he'd be willing to move on. Plus, if the Blackhawks repeat their sell-off after the Cup Finals like they did in 2010, they won't overpay to get him back.

Opinion: His possession numbers can be deceiving because he's been given a lot of advantages to get there. If the Sabres were to bring him in as a depth player, he might be worth it, but he probably isn't a significant upgrade over players like Corey Tropp or Brian Flynn. Pass.

5) F Brendan Morrow

The Good: Morrow is an outstanding leader who was the centerpiece of the Stars' organization until being dealt at the trade deadline to Pittsburgh. In the past, he's been an outstanding two-way player who could excel in every facet of the game.

The Bad: He isn't the player he was five years ago. While Morrow still posted decent offensive statistics this year, he was poor in puck possession while still facing tough assignments.

The Stats: 44 games, 12 goals, 13 assists, minus-3

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 34 -13.6 43.6% 7
2012 33 -5.2 45.9% 3
2011 32 1.1 52.5% 2

Probability of signing: Morrow should be looking to latch on with a contender like Pittsburgh, but that will depend on whether any contenders want his services.

Opinion: Signing Morrow would be a lot like getting Rob Neidermayer at the end of his career. He isn't going to offer what he would have years ago, but might be a nice veteran leadership addition. Only on a one-year deal, though.

6) F Michael Ryder

The Good: The veteran winger proved in 2013 he hasn't lost his offensive skills at age 33. He's a very talented power play player and can score 25 to 30 total goals.

The Bad: Can you say Brad Boyes? Don't expect him to drive possession or face tough assignments on defense. He's a player built for 2005-06 – the days when the league called penalties.

The Stats:

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 33 -0.1 56.5% 5
2012 32 0.7 51.8% 6
2011 31 -7.1 50.1% 13

Probability of signing: The Canadiens have said he's not coming back, so, like many others he'll be aiming to land on a contender. But that doesn't mean he'll find one. He could be had for a multi-year deal at fairly big money.

Opinion: There's nothing wrong with having a one-dimensional scorer, but the Sabres have too many of them already. They certainly don't need an aged one on a multi-year deal. Pass.

7) D Rob Scuderi

The Good: The veteran defenseman is a great penalty killer. He led the Kings in PK ice time this season. He has played tough minutes on one of the league's best teams and brings veteran presence.

The Bad: He hasn't been overwhelmingly good in difficult situations. He's played on a dominating possession team, but hasn't been one of their better possession players. Scuderi is also 35 and won't offer much in terms of offense.

The Stats:

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 34 -18.0 48.9% 3
2012 33 -7.5 48.4% 2
2011 32 -7.9 49.4% 3

Probability of signing: With up-and-coming defenseman, it wouldn't be surprising if the Kings moved on.

Opinion: There are better options. Pass.

8) D Anton Babchuck

The Good:The former first-round pick is big – 6-foot-5, 210-pounds to be exact. Back in 2008-09, he showed flashes of being an offensively talented D-man.

The Bad: He hasn't been healthy ever. In the last three years in Calgary, he's played 65, 32 and 7 games. He isn't tough, can't kill penalties or play against tough opponents.

The Stats: 7 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-1

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 -6.6 47.2% 7
2012 28 -2.8 50.7% 8
2011 27 1.3 61.9% 7

Probability of signing: High. He won't have too many offers.

Opinion: Pass.

9) D Andrew Ference

The Good: The Bruins' defenseman has been a part of some great B's teams, offering 5-on-5 offense and a little bit of grit to go with it.

The Bad: Ference has never been much of a possession player despite his offensive skill at even strength. He's not big and doesn't kill penalties. The Bruins have never asked him to take on the league's best, which should mean he'd be better in terms of possession than he has been.

The Stats: 48 games, 4 goals, 9 assists, plus-9

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 34 7.7 50.3% 4
2013 33 -16.7 50.0% 5
2011 32 3.9 50.8% 6

Probability of signing: He'll probably get overpaid by a mediocre team. There's a good chance the Bruins will replace him with Torey Krug.

Opinion: Pass. Ference is aged, doesn't play special teams or drive possession. He'll get paid because he's been on a great team, but the Sabres shouldn't be the team who pays him.

10) F Pascal Dupuis

The Good: The 34-year-old forward is a strong all-around player with lockdown skills and the ability to finish. You can trust him on the ice against the best players in the NHL and know he'll knock home a chance when it comes to his stick. He was a good possession player and tough-assignment forward even back in his Thrashers days.

The Bad: Does your team have Sidney Crosby? It doesn't? Then good luck getting 20-plus goals out of Dupuis.

The Stats: 48 games, 20 goals, 18 assists, plus-31

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 34 12.8 42.3% 3
2012 33 -1.6 51.7% 2
2011 32 -9.2 4890.0% 2

Probability of signing: He'd be pretty much everything the Sabres need on their team. But who would leave Sidney's side? Even to get overpaid, he's 34 and probably wants another Cup. Plus, at that age, he's likely to be looking for a deal in the range of five years. Do you want to break the bank and be stuck with him at 39 for 30 points and good defense up front? Probably not.

Opinion: He'd be insane to leave Pittsburgh.

11) F Val Fillpula

The Good: The Finnish forward can play a lower line role and provide defense or play on higher lines and score goals. He was somewhat disappointing in 2013 following a 66-point 2011-12, but his 11-12 performance proved he has offensive skills. And he's good in the faceoff circle.

The Bad: Fillpula hasn't been a dominant possession player or scorer. He's sort of a jack of all trades but master of none. He is a hard worker on both ends and has been a part of one of the best organizations in hockey – that says something. But he's fit in as a part of the Red Wings as a piece of the puzzle, not a center piece.

The Stats: 41 games, 9 goals, 8 assists, minus-4

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 29 5.4 58.9% 4
2012 28 -7.5 53.8% 1
2011 27 -10.3 50.2% 7

Probability of signing: Who would want to leave Detroit? Unless, that is, he's getting a Ville Leino deal.

12) D Ron Hainsey

The Good: The 32-year-old defenseman was the top penalty killer for the Jets last season. He brings some size at 6-foot-3 and whatever remains of his once well-thought-of puck moving skills. As a member of the Jets, he's been used against the league's toughest competition.

The Bad: He's been a minus possession player three years in a row. For someone big, he isn't particularly physical and doesn't score much these days at 5-on-5. He won't add anything on the power play – his 5-on-4 minutes were stripped a few years ago.

The Stats: 47 games, 0 goals, 13 assists, minus-9

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 32 -8.7 44.2% 1
2012 31 -7.4 46.9% 4
2011 30 -3.0 48.1% 4

Probability of signing: He's been with the same organization for a long time. The Jets may feel like moving on or they may feel good about what they have. It's tough to say, but the price shouldn't be overwhelming.

Opinion: He'd make a nice replacement for Regehr as long as the Sabres don't treat him like Regehr and ask him to play the hardest minutes against the Crosbys of the league. It might be a nice short-term stability move, especially considering how young Buffalo is on the blue line

13) F Nik Anthropov

The Good: The 33-year-old forward can still score goals. His shot hasn't faded with age and he's still 6-foot-6, 240 pounds. Anthropov has a history of goal scoring on the power play and might still be able to be utilized in front of the net.

The Bad: He isn't the two-way forward or point producer the Maple Leafs hoped he'd be way back when he was drafted 10th overall. Anthropov has poor possession numbers, has to be used in sheltered situations and is tremendously bad at faceoffs...so bad at 42% career that it might actually hurt the team. For someone who's 6-foot-6, he isn't really physical and doesn't score like he used to on the power play.

The Stats: 40 games, 6 goals, 12 assists, plus-6

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 33 -4.6 55.9% 4
2012 32 1.5 56.7% 9
2011 31 -6.1 49.8% 9

Probability of signing: The Jets should be thinking about moving on from their aging, one-dimensional center.

Opinion: He won't have much demand, but for good reason. The Sabres have much better options in house.

14) F Blake Comeau

The Good: The 27-year-old forward has size and can add physical play to a team's lower lines.

The Bad: He can't score more than 40 points or be asked to play tough minutes

The Stats: 42 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, minus-4

Year Age  Corsi Rel O-zone% Start QoC Rank
2013 27 -0.2 51.0% 12
2012 26 8.4 49.6% 8
2011 25 2.8 44.2% 12

Probability of signing: There won't be a huge market for his services.

Opinion: Size is good for the Sabres, but they might want someone more defensively competent and flexible. Pass.

Would you take a last place finish from the Sabres next year?
  Yes - Exuberantly!
  Yes - But don't tell anyone that I clicked this
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