The Buffalo Sabres should probably win the Northeast Division with the roster they have now. But to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, they might need a little help. Welcome to “Wants and Needs” where we purge the rosters of the bottom-feeding teams and see who the Sabres could realistically acquire for the stretch run and the playoffs.
Today we look at the Carolina Hurricanes roster:
They really don’t have that much to trade. Here are three players I think the Sabres could make a run at.
Ray Whitney ($3.55 cap hit, team-high 39 points)
Matt Cullen ($2.875 cap hit, 31 points)
Jussi Jokinen ($1.7 cap hit, 37 points)
Whitney and Cullen will be unrestricted free agents on July 1. Jokinen is under contract for one more season before he goes UFA.
For the production they’re getting out of Jokinen — he’s having a career year for under $2 million a season — the ‘Canes might want to hang onto Jokinen. But that’s fine considering he’s not that different from many players already on the Sabres roster.
What sets Cullen apart is that he’s center. Unfortunately, he’s 64th in the league on faceoff percentage, putting him behind both Paul Gaustad and Derek Roy. He does have ring from that Cup the Canes stole in 2006, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. He could be a good fit.
Whitney will be coveted by a lot of teams, especially since more clubs will likely be buyers than sellers. Darren Dreger has him on his list of players most likely to be dealt, behind only Ilya Kovalchuk.
His age might be a bit of an issue but his production has remained steady. His numbers this season are very similar to those of the last two years — he’s on pace for 25 goals and 63 points. He, too, was on that 2006 Hurricanes team and had a decent playoff that year with nine goals and 15 points in 24 games.
I wouldn’t break the bank for a 37-year-old UFA-to-be, but if Darcy Regier can get him in a Buffalo uniform, I think I would have a tough time being upset over it.
Ideally, the Sabres acquire a No. 1 center with a Stanley Cup ring who can win faceoffs. If anyone can find that guy, please let us know. But if the Sabres end up trading with Carolina, I wouldn’t mind settling for Whitney or even Cullen.