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2013 Sabres Free Agency Targets



blog-0402592001372878517.jpgAs we approach the offical start of Free Agency on Friday, teams are starting to talk to players in hope of agreeing to a deal before Friday. I expect the first day of Free Agency to be exciting. The Sabres themselves sit in an interesting spot this year. After attacking the top players in UFA the last two season under the Pegula regime I think they are going to take a different approach this year. I believe they are going to attack the second tier and look for players that will fit in with the young core that is being built. Here five players I would target this year:

1. Danny Briere-35 years old-C/LW

The former Sabres Co-Captain is the #1 target this year. I have been told this by an acquaintance who works in Sabres hockey operations department (aka source). Management wants Briere back badly and will go all out to bring him back. They believe Briere can get perhaps get Leino going again with the magic they had in Philly. Also they believe that bringing back Briere will help them convince Vanek to stay. Lastly they believe that Briere can help groom future Sabres stars like Hodgson, Grigorenko, and Girgensons. At this point in his career Danny will not likely play a full season however I think he would be a great fit for the Sabres.

2. Viktor Stalberg-27 years old-LW

I think Stalberg would fit in well with his speed and size to a young Sabres roster. The 6'3 winger landed in the dog house during the playoffs in Chicago. I have always liked the game Stalberg played during his time in Chicago. His mix of size and speed would be great for an awful PP and puck possession, Now Stalberg does have some red flags. He will need a coach who can push him to bring it every game and Rolston made a statement last season that you earn your ice or sit. Perhaps a new start could be just what Stalberg needs to jump his career. The Sabres are in a spot where they can take a chance on a player like Stalberg.

3. Damien Brunner-27 years old-LW

The Swiss product had a great start to his NHL career last season with Detroit. He ended the campaign with 26 points in 44 games. Like Stalberg, Brunner would fit in well with a young team looking to grow. Brunner could be an example of the magic that happens when you put on the winged wheel sweater, however again a 2-3 year lower salary contract is something the Sabres can live with. I still believe there's a good chance Brunner ends up back with the Wings when all is said and done.

4. Pierre-Marc Bouchard-29 years old-C/W

Bouchard's career has been slowed down with injuries. I love a team with speed and excitment, which is why I would look at a player like Bouchard. The Canadian forward will likely get a prove it 1 or 2 year deal from any time this year. To stick with the theme hear why not try to catch lightning in a bottle and a shot with Bouchard. He can bring scoring from a 2nd/3rd line role which the Sabres need badly. If Bouchard can stay healthy I still think he can make an impact in this league. Thats the catch though. Can you get enough games out of him to make it worth it.

5. Mason Raymond-27 years old-LW

Raymond struggled to live up to expectations in Vancouver and also delt with a rash of injuries. Raymond was oftern included in trade chatter over the last two seasons and the Sabres did kick the tires on Raymond at one point. A fresh start for Raymond could be just what the doctor ordered. Being out of the spotlight in Vancouver could allow the 27 year old winger to relax and play his game. Raymond can play in both ends of the rink. He can help on the PP or PK. On a line with a player like Steve Ott and a young playmaker like Mikhail Grigorenko I think Raymond has the chance to excel.

The Sabres right now sit with 15.5 million cap space after the buy out of Nathan Gerbe. They need to still sign Hodgson, Flynn, Hackett, and Tropp who are RFA's. That should leave the Sabres with about 9-10 million to play with. I dont expect the Sabres to be big players outside of Briere. They'll be looking for players who fit roles.

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