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Former Sabres Still Looking for Homes in Free Agency



Alex Nylander former Buffalo Sabres Columbus Blue Jackets free agency

As former Buffalo Sabres players continue the trend of winning the Stanley Cup, there are plenty of “forgotten” members of the team in recent history who are still unsigned in free agency. For every Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel, and Ryan O’Reilly success story after leaving Buffalo, there’s a Marco Scandella, Derek Grant, and Alex Nylander.

14 former Sabres who played under NHL contracts last season are still looking for jobs. Six forwards, five defensemen, and three goalies wonder if they’ll get another shot at proving they still have what it takes. Before revealing the complete list below, let’s review some of the top free agents who had stops in Buffalo and see what the future may hold.

Alex Nylander

Position: Forward

2023-2024 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets

Surprisingly, the Columbus Blue Jackets did not issue a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Alex Nylander, making him a free agent. The former first-round draft pick of the Sabres has had a disappointing career, but he was on 53-point pace since being acquired by the Blue Jackets last season.

Nylander’s 11 goals in 23 games for Columbus translates to 39 goals over a full season, which is surely going to catch some team’s attention. He’s a one-dimensional forward who is reliant on his shooting ability. The league saw three similar players find new homes already this offseason – Victor Olofsson, Alex Holtz, and Alex Barre-Boulet.

Maybe there’s an NHL player in Nylander somewhere after all, as he’s spent his entire career bouncing between the AHL and NHL. Free agency will determine his value, but teams across the league, including the Sabres, are looking for scoring talent.

Must Read: New Sabres Trade Candidate Has Emerged

Marco Scandella

Position: Defense

2023-2024 Team: St. Louis Blues

Marco Scandella went from top-pair defenseman in Buffalo to bottom-pair, penalty-kill specialist in St. Louis. He succeeded in the role, but it displays how desperate the Sabres were on the blueline. Unfortunately for him, he arrived the year after Ryan O’Reilly helped lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup.

Scandella won’t wow teams with his production, managing only eight points in 65 games last season. The hard-shooting defenseman will still provide a strong defensive presence and can be physical. Bottom-pair, veteran defensemen tend to latch on late in free agency, so expect the 34-year-old to find a home with a playoff hopeful.

However, his next contract will likely be a bit of a dropoff from his previous $3.275 million average annual value.

Kyle Okposo

Position: Forward

2023-2024 Team: Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers

Kyle Okposo accomplished exactly what he was hoping to after requesting the Florida Panthers as his trade destination at the deadline. The new Stanley Cup champion has not officially announced his retirement, so he may mull over a potential return over the summer.

It’s doubtful he’d want to end up anywhere else than the two teams he played for last season though, and the Sabres have seemingly moved on. Riding off into the sunset is the most likely, and probably the only, option for Okposo.

Prospect Update: Biggest Stock Risers from Sabres Development Camp

Chad Ruhwedel

Position: Defense

2023-2024 Team: Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers

Chad Ruhwedel has made a nice career for himself as a sixth defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins for eight seasons. The New York Rangers acquired him at the trade deadline to bolster their depth, but hardly needed him. The question remains if the 34-year-old will get another opportunity in the NHL.

Like Scandella, Ruhwedel’s been effective in his role. He’s also a right-shot, which increases his value slightly. Injury insurance is important on the backend, and Ruhwedel is the perfect candidate to step in and be reliable for a contender.

Related: Top Remaining Free Agent Fits for Sabres

List of Unsigned Former Sabres

Here’s the complete list of former Sabres still looking for NHL contracts in free agency:

  • Aaron Dell, G
  • Alex Nylander, F
  • Anders Bjork, F
  • Chad Ruhwedel, D
  • Derek Grant, F
  • Dustin Tokarski, G
  • Jean-Sebastian Dea, F
  • Kyle Criscuolo, F
  • Kyle Okposo, F
  • Malcolm Subban, G
  • Marco Scandella, D
  • Matt Irwin, D
  • Taylor Fedun, D
  • Will Butcher, D
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