June is almost over. In just one week, the calender flips over and free agency begins in the NHL. Now while this means the Sabres have a chance to bring in some new faces, it also means that time is running out to keep some of the old ones.
The Sabres currently have seven players on last season’s roster that are set to hit the free agent market come next Tuesday. Let’s go over that list and see just how we feel about them hitting the open market.
Tellqvist, Mikael- Despite having a pretty decent run with the Sabres, Tellqvist bolted for the KHL back in May. So he’s off the Sabres radar, along with the other 29 teams in the NHL. The good news here is that we’ve heard from a few people that Lalime’s surgery went well and he should be good to go come October.
Numminen, Teppo– Teppo appears to have said his goodbyes to the media at locker cleanout, so by all accounts he appears to be retired at the moment. No formal arrangements have been filed, but the Sabres were the only team to take a flier on him last season, and I expect the same thinking this year. There’s a .05% chance that Teppo’s our 6th defenseman, and yes I just made those odds up.
Spacek, Jaroslav– The Sabres appear to want Spacek back, and he seems to want back in as well. We’ve talked about this a bit earlier in the week, but I suppose another season or two from Spacek wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. The clock is ticking, but he might be the only guy on this list who is a Sabre in the fall.
Afinogenov, Maxim– Max is a goner, and anyone reading this site knows it. The sooner he’s off the payroll the sooner I can recover from the memories of wasted talent and incomprehensible giveaways. Free at last.
Ellis, Matt– When Ellis was claimed off the waiver wire during the preseason, I really wasn’t sure what purpose he would serve. Despite my uncertainty, Ellis had a pretty decent season for the Sabres. He picked up 12 points in 45 games last season, but clearly his role was to create on the 3rd and 4th line.
Ellis is an interesting decision because he seemed to run hot and cold all year. He would get scratched for games at a time and then other times he was the best player on the ice. However, that might be more an argument against overall team performance than for Ellis himself.
The closer we get to Wednesday the more it looks like Ellis won’t be coming back. He was certainly worth the money this season, but expect Darcy to go out looking for a similar player before the season starts. This won’t be a July 1 move, but rather an August or even September 1 signing. The priority may not be there, but the role certainly is.
Moore, Dominic– Broken bones aside, Moore was certainly a bit of a dissapointment after the hype that was attached to him at the trade deadline. He is a 3rd line center and not much more, but the Leafs were shopping him for much more and his agent clearly wanted a nice contract for a player in a breakout season.
However, Moore never did break out while with the Sabres. He never really looked comfortable, and while he provided a bit more grit, he won’t be worth the asking price to the Sabres. Moore will hit the FA market for sure, and just might be back to wearing blue and white in the fall.
Peters, Andrew– This looks to be the end of the line for Petey. Only 28 games for Peters last season and a career-low 81 PIMs, Peters was ineffective and underutilized for another year as the league continues to change. He can’t skate, can’t score, and rarely does anything when he does find the ice. Fans and teammates love Andrew, but with his contract up the team might want to “go in a different direction”, so to speak.
Any arguments about the list? This may be the last time we ever talk about these seven players, so if you have any thoughts feel free. In less than a week the question becomes not if they will stay, but who will replace them.