Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
The final portion of the free agent list focuses upon the restricted free agents in the system. At this level most will be qualified with a minimum raise if the team wishes to retain their rights and most players sign the offer. Those who are not qualified by Buffalo become unrestricted free agents.
After going through Buffalo's UFA's and roster RFA's in the past two segments, only six players remain as free agents.
Once again, here' the list of Buffalo's remaining restricted free agents, their cap hit or salaries if on a two-way contract, 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. And we start with two goaltenders.
G, Jason Kasdorf ($667K)--Yes
Kasdorf signed with Buffalo after finishing a solid college career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He came to the Sabres with a groin injury and rehabbed with the big club until he got his first NHL start on April 8 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a 4-1 loss for Buffalo.
A 5th round draft pick of his hometown Winnipeg Jets, Kasdorf came to Buffalo in the Evander Kane trade and should be considered a long-term project. Kasdorf will either be in Rochester or Elmira next season with a minimal raise on a two-way deal. Where he ends up is dependent upon what the Sabres do with the next RFA.
G, Nathan Lieuwen ($575K/$55K)--No
At 6'5" 190 lbs. Lieuwen has the size that GM's love. He also got off to a solid start to his professional career going from the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL to Rochester in 2012-13. He came back the following season and posted real solid numbers for the Amerks. But a rough circumstances in Rochester during the 2014-15 season and a concussion in April, 2015 while playing in Buffalo seems to have derailed his career. He also had two concussions in junior.
Lieuwen's been a good soldier while giving everything he's got for the organization, but his opportunity might be elsewhere. With Linus Ullmark almost a lock as Rochester's No. 1 goalie and Kasdorf looking to be a competent backup the goalie tandem in Rochester looks set. Further on down the road the procession of prospects coming through looks to be two or three deep stretching out for a few years. Hopefully he can catch on with another team.
LW, Alexander Guptill ($840K/$67.5K)--No
Guptill came over in the big trade with the Binghamton Senators. A former 3rd round pick of the Dallas Stars, the 6'3" 192 lb. forward, Guptill couldn't transfer a strong college career at Michigan to the pros. Last season he bounced around all over the place which included playing in 38 ECHL games for two teams.
LW, Jack Nevins ($670K/$67.5K)--Yes
You gotta have something about you at any level to separate you from your peers. Fourth-liners are a dime a dozen at the NHL level, a dime for two-dozen at the AHL-level. If you can't score you need to be a defensive specialist, grinder, fighter or combination. Nevins is a grinder/fighter and the type of player the Amerks can use in a rough and tumble AHL.
F, Colin Jacobs ($600K/$55K)--No
Jacobs is a former 2011 4th round pick of the Sabres and has been at the pro-level since 2012. During that time he's never been able to have an impact in the AHL and he spent most of last season playing in the ECHL
C, Daniel Catenacci ($575K/$65K)--No
Other than Lieuwen, Catenacci was the most difficult decision to make in this group. He's a fast skater who seems to be starting to get it at the pro-level. He could be a late-bloomer but that said, what will he bloom into? He went pointless in his 11-game NHL debut and it's possible that he could end up being a tweener at best.
Right now we're looking at 17 players whom I believe we should re-sign, but if you take out G, Chad Johnson and D, Matt Donovan--both of whom will probably sign elsewhere--there are 15 contracts to add to 28 existing contracts leaving the team seven open slots this off-season.
It's early in the process and GM "Trader" Tim Murray hasn't gotten his jiggy on in the trade arena yet so God only knows what we're looking at after the 2016 NHL Draft concludes.
But this is a start.
Special thanks to CapFriendly, General Fanager, with some help from Hockeybuzz's Cap Central, for information regarding contract status and player salaries contained in this piece.