Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year, $950K contract extension on April 29th. Larsson hit career-highs in goals (10) and points (17) and centered the Sabres most consistent line in the latter half of last season.
Sabres GM Tim Murray and AGM Mark Jakubowski have their work cut out for them as they have 24 free agents to make decisions on, 23 if you discount goalie Andrey Makarov, who's back home in Mother Russia and was none too happy with what he perceived as grossly unfair treatment by the Sabres organization.
With that said here's the list of free agents, their current cap-hit, an opinion as to whether or not Buffalo should re-sign said player and a gander as to how much they might be re-signed for if all sides put ink to paper.
Today we begin with unrestricted free agents.
F, David Legwand ($3M)--Yes.
Was a pleasant surprise anchoring the fourth-line, provided calm, steady leadership and was a anchor on the penalty kill. At age 35 he's getting real long in the tooth but having him in a depth role next season won't hurt if his salary is in the $1-1.5M range.
D, Carlo Colaiacovo ($900K)--No
There was nothing wrong with Colaiacovo and how he played in his role as a depth d-man for the Sabres last season. Buffalo would probably like to re-sign him but unless there is a trade of a defenseman, there may not be any room.
G, Chad Johnson ($1.3M)--Yes
The Sabres would love to have Johnson back in the fold as Robin Lehner's backup because of the exceptional season he had last year. However, the 29 yr. old Johnson sees himself as a starter somewhere and can probably land a longer-term contract for a nice payout. Johnson is worth $3-4M to Buffalo on a one-year deal, but he's all but gone.
F, Tim Schaller (2-way; $874K/$70K)--Yes
Schaller is an NHL'er and he will get his shot as a bottom-six defensive forward somewhere. He's responsible, he can skate, he can defend, he busts ass and he can score as well. Sabres should give him a good look on a one-year, one-way extension in the $950K range.
LW, Cole Schneider ($700K/$110K)--Yes
Any expectations of the Williamsville native sticking with the big club should be extremely tempered, but keeping him as Rochester's top winger would be huge for an Amerks team that struggled mightily last season. A two-way extension with a $40K AHL bump might work.
D, Chad Ruhwedel ($625/$70K)--Yes
The Amerks defense was inconsistent at best last season and a bit of continuity would help. He's played in 33 NHL games but has registered only 2 assists in that time. If he's interested in staying with a bump in his AHL salary to $95K, there's no reason why he shouldn't be re-signed.
D, Matt Donovan ($825K/$400K)--Yes
The Amerks had too many vets last season which caused then head coach Randy Cunneyworth to do a nightly juggling act. Raising Donovan's AHL salary to $450K on a one-year deal should be about as far as they go with him even though he lead the defense in scoring. But will he go for it?
C, Eric O'Dell ($700K/$300K)--Yes
Came over with Schneider, amongst others, in the trade with the Binghamton Senators and finished second on the team in scoring. Bumping both sides of his salary to $800K/$325K on a one-year deal with a trip or two to Buffalo should work.
RW, Jerry D'Amigo ($700K/$125K)--Yes
We're close reaching the maximum number of veteran skaters an AHL team can ice for a given game with the signing of D'Amigo. But if you're a fan of the speed on display in the Stanley Cup Finals, he's your guy. Upping his AHL salary 10-K on one-year deal for the 25 yr. old might get the job done.
D, Michael Sdao ($641K/$82.5K)--Yes
Sdao is another player who came over in the big trade with Binghamton. Sdao is not at the maximum of 260 professional games played so he's still considered "developmental." Rochester needs defensemen right now and last year Sdao made $95K on the AHL side of his contract. Buffalo should keep it there.
D, Bobby Sanguinetti ($600K/$300K)--No
With injuries starting to creep into the equation, the veteran isn't as effective in a leadership role as was originally planned because you can't lead if you're not on the ice. Nothing against the former first-round pick (21st overall, NYR) but the Sabres organization will probably move on from him.
C, Matt "Fricken" Ellis (?)--No
The professionalism that Ellis brings to the organization is unquestioned and he's always been in tip-top shape. He'll be 35 at the beginning of next season and can still get around the ice, but despite that, it may be time for him to move into the coaching ranks, as is expected, upon retiring as a player. He's given his heart and soul to this organization and is part of the family. Hopefully the Pegula's see it that way and take care of him while he's transitioning.
Special thanks to General Fanager, with some help from Hockeybuzz's Cap Central, for information regarding contract status and player salaries contained in this piece.