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Top Remaining Free Agent Fits for Sabres



The Buffalo Sabres splashed in free agency, signing 11 players to NHL contracts. Jason Zucker, Sam Lafferty, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Jacob Bryson, Dennis Gilbert, and James Reimer could all be on Buffalo’s roster to begin next season. Meanwhile, Mason Jobst, Josh Dunne, Jack Rathbone, Colton Poolman, and Felix Sandstrom are all expected to start in AHL Rochester. Even with all of the free agent signings, the Sabres still have needs to fill, particularly at either top-six forward or third-line center.

The dust has settled on all of the big free-agent names. According to CapFriendly, there have been 228 signings since free agency opened on July 1st. That’s a big number over two days, but some talent remains. Let’s look at some of the best remaining free-agent options for the Sabres.

Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Tarasenko free agent Buffalo Sabres player comps

Vladimir Tarasenko has been one of the NHL’s better-scoring threats for over a decade. He scored 23 goals and 55 points in 76 games for the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers last season.

He’s a player who’s very teammate-reliant at this point in his career but can still produce top-tier offense and chip in on the powerplay. There isn’t much to expect from a defensive standpoint with Tarasenko and he’s already 32 years old.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have reportedly made an offer for Tarasenko’s services, which makes sense given the recent trade of Reilly Smith leaving a scoring void next to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Evolving-Hockey projects he’ll receive a three-year, $5.478 million average annual value contract, which is pricey for an aging talent. The Sabres may have to outbid that to land Tarasenko, which could be much too rich for their liking.

Must Read: Reports: Sabres Sign Zucker, Lafferty in Free Agency

Jack Roslovic

Jack Roslovic free agent Buffalo Sabres player comps

Jack Roslovic is a much younger and slightly cheaper option than Tarasenko. The 27-year-old is projected for a three-year, $4.455 million AAV contract per Evolving-Hockey.

The plus side of signing Roslovic is his versatility to play center or wing as a right-shot. He’s also much more of a play-driver than Tarasenko, as he uses his speed to push play up the ice and back off opponents.

Roslovic would immediately slot into Buffalo’s third line and provide an instant spark. He won’t wow you with his production – nine goals and 31 points in 59 games last season – but he does enough to provide secondary scoring.

Daniel Sprong

Daniel Sprong free agent Buffalo Sabres player comps

If you want to be wowed by production, look no further than Daniel Sprong. Sprong has some of the best goal-scoring rates in the entire NHL, despite averaging fourth-line minutes throughout his career.

Like Tarasenko, one of his closest comps, Sprong is a dependent player who fits best with a playmaking, two-way center. Think “balling on a budget” when considering him, as Evolving-Hockey projects a three-year, $3.378 million AAV contract for the 27-year-old.

So why hasn’t Sprong gotten more of a chance? That’s a question only those inside the locker room can answer. He’s bounced around the league since a young age, so finding the right fit might be tough for the scorer. The Sabres still need to account for the scoring punch lost by buying out Jeff Skinner and adding someone like Sprong could go a long way.

Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz free agent Buffalo Sabres player comps

The Sabres appear to be set at defense, given no issues in signing restricted free agent Henri Jokiharju. That said, most of the depth added to the position focused on physicality. Justin Schultz provides elite puck-moving skills and contributes offensively. If the Sabres want another slick-skating blueliner to feed their offense, he’d be a sneaky-good add.

Evolving-Hockey projects a three-year, $3.191 million per year contract, which is a lot for a 33-year-old. If the Sabres can swing something short-term in the $2.5 million AAV range, a move would make a lot more sense.

More Free Agency: Sabres Sign Buffalo Native Gilbert; Bring Back Bryson

Tyson Barrie

Tyson Barrie free agent Buffalo Sabres player comps

Tyson Barrie falls into the same boat as Schultz, as an offensive-minded, puck-moving defenseman. Barrie is 32 and projected by Evolving-Hockey for a much cheaper one-year, $1.789 million deal.

Adding a style of player like Barrie could better complement Mattias Samuelsson on Buffalo’s third defensive pair. Right now the physical Connor Clifton is slated for that spot, which could nullify some offense from the bottom of the Sabres’ lineup.

There are still some free-agent options, whatever the Sabres decide to do. A bigger splash could be made by making a trade, but it’s good to know that there are still some fallback options.