Free agency begins today and there are many names hitting the market that may interest the Buffalo Sabres.
Now that Steven Stamkos has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Sabres’ GM Tim Murray needs to look elsewhere to fill the holes on his roster. Buffalo has a projected $18 million in salary cap space so the team has plenty of room to work with in order to sign their current RFAs and bring a few new faces to the organization.
Since the rebuild began, many players have come and gone through Buffalo. According to ESPN.com, several of these former Sabres will be hitting the open market. Here is a look back at ten players who once wore the blue and gold that will become unrestricted free agents.
See Also: Buffalo Sabres UFA Rundown
Prior to arriving in Buffalo, Boyes set career highs with 43 goals during the 2007-08 season and 72 points during the 2008-09 season. However, Boyes struggled on offense as a member of the Sabres. The forward scored just 13 goals and 37 points in 86 games with Buffalo.
Since his days in the blue and gold, Boyes has spent much of his time with the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers. Boyes’ contract was bought out by the Panthers on July 1 of last year and he signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The veteran is entering free agency after tallying eight goals and 24 points in 60 games with the Leafs last season.
Brian Campbell spent parts of eight seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. The defenseman was drafted by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft and he was with the team during their consecutive runs to the Eastern Conference Final. In 391 regular seasons games with Buffalo, Campbell notched 32 goals and 176 points.
Campbell was traded by the Sabres during the 2007-08 season to the San Jose Sharks. He later signed with the Chicago Blackhawks where he won a Stanley Cup during the 2009-10 season. Campbell has spent the past five seasons with the Panthers. He reached his 1000 career NHL game milestone this past season and he’s scored 28 goals and 175 points in 376 games with Florida.
The San Jose Sharks drafted Christian Ehrhoff in the fourth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Ehrhoff spent five seasons in San Jose and two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks before inking a huge contract to join the Sabres. In three seasons with Buffalo, Ehrhoff played in 192 games scoring 16 goals and 87 points. The Sabres bought out Ehrhoff’s contract after the 2013-14 season.
Ehrhoff became an unrestricted free agent after the buyout and signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2015-16 he signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings. The defenseman scored two goals and eight points in 40 games with the Kings last season. Los Angeles put Ehrhoff on waivers in February 2016 and he went unclaimed. He was later traded to the Blackhawks and appeared in eight games tallying two assists for Chicago.
The Sabres drafted forward Paul Gaustad with their seventh round draft choice in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Gaustad played an important role on faceoffs and played in Buffalo for eight seasons. The center appeared in 479 regular season games for the Sabres scoring 71 goals and 181 points.
Gaustad was traded during the 2011-12 season to the Nashville Predators along with a fourth round selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft for a first round draft choice. Since then, the veteran has spent the past five seasons with the Predators. The 34-year-old has appeared in 248 games for Nashville scoring 18 goals and 50 points.
Nathan Gerbe played for the Sabres for five seasons. Originally selected by Buffalo in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Gerbe’s grit and determination made him a fan favorite while he wore blue and gold. Gerbe scored 29 goals and 72 points in 188 games with the Sabres.
Gerbe moved on from Buffalo in July 2013 when he signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. The forward remained productive during his first two seasons in Carolina. However, last season an injury forced Gerbe out of the lineup and he struggled to get ice time when he returned. Gerbe finished the 2015-16 season with just three goals and seven points.
See Also: Buffalo Sabres’ Late Round Draft Gems
The Buffalo Sabres acquired forward Jamie McGinn last summer along with forward Ryan O’Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche. McGinn had a strong season in Buffalo. He grew close with Buffalo’s young core and played a productive role with the Sabres. McGinn notched 14 goals and 27 points in 63 games with Buffalo last season.
As a pending UFA, GM Tim Murray traded McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. McGinn performed well for Anaheim but the club’s playoff hopes were cut short. McGinn scored eight goals and 12 points during the regular season and two goals in seven playoff games with the Ducks.
Steve Ott has successfully played the role of a pest for many seasons. A former first round pick of the Dallas Stars, Ott has amassed 1475 penalty minutes in 795 regular season games during his career. The Sabres acquired Ott along with defenseman Adam Pardy (who also hits the open market today) in July 2012 from Dallas in exchange for forward Derek Roy.
Ott spent two seasons with Buffalo quickly becoming a fan favorite and he served as the team’s captain. Buffalo traded Ott along with former goaltender Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues and Ott has remained with the Blues ever since this trade. Ott suffered a horrific injury this past season that required a long and difficult recovery. He battled back from the injury and appeared in nine playoff games for the Blues.
The Avalanche selected forward Chris Stewart in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Stewart spent parts of three seasons in Colorado and played in three seasons with St. Louis before joining the Sabres via the Ryan Miller trade.
Stewart played in Buffalo for two seasons where he scored 11 goals and 25 points in 66 games. In March 2015, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild for a second round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The forward spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks where he scored 8 goals and 20 points in 56 regular season games.
The Sabres drafted Thomas Vanek with their fifth overall selection in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Vanek was a very important offensive player for the Sabres hitting the 40 goal mark twice during the nine seasons he spent in Buffalo. In 598 career regular season games with the Sabres, Vanek scored 254 goals and 497 points.
Since his days in Buffalo, Vanek has played for the Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, and Wild. After a difficult 2015-16 campaign in which he scored 18 goals and 41 points in 74 games, Minnesota decided to buyout the remainder of Vanek’s contract making him a free agent. Vanek enters free agency with a chip on his shoulder and is seeking an opportunity to prove that he can still be a strong offensive contributor in the NHL.
Mike Weber spent eight seasons with the Sabres. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Weber was drafted by Buffalo in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Weber plays with a ton of heart and he endured some of the most difficult seasons in Sabres’ history as a member of the team during the rebuild.
Weber scored 9 goals and 53 points in 341 regular season games in Buffalo. He was traded to the Washington Capitals in February 2016 for a third round selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The physical defenseman appeared in ten regular season games and two playoff games for the Capitals.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW