UFA Options is a continuing series that gives a brief run-down of the unrestricted free agent market this summer, team-by-team. Our next team for consideration is the Buffalo Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres have some interesting decisions facing them this summer; they have eight significant free agents, including enigmatic forward Maxim Afinogenov, rental players Dominic Moore and Mikael Tellqvist, and quality defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. Let’s take a look.
- Age is calculated based on how old the player will be during the 2009-10 season.
- QualComp/QualTeam are the Quality of Competition/Teammates rankings from Behind the Net; the number appearing is each player’s ranking by position (forward/defense) on his own team.
- Def/Off Faceoffs is a comparison of the total number of shifts starting in the defensive and offensive zones, courtesy of Vic Ferrari’s Time On Ice. A positive number indicates starting more in the defensive zone, a negative number the opposite.
- All advanced statistics are courtesy of Behind the Net.
Vital Stats: 30 years old, 6’, 191lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 3,333,333 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 48GP – 6G – 14A – 20PTS, -7
2008-09 Contextual: 14th QualComp, 10th QualTeam, -10 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: +5.8 Corsi/60, 1.63 EVPTS/60, 2.39 GFON/60, 2.89 GAON/60
The word “enigma” is tossed around an awful lot when it comes to streaky, highly talented Russian forwards. Maxim Afinogenov fits the mold exactly; he’s been a point per game player twice since the lockout, but over the past two seasons he’s been used sparingly by Lindy Ruff and hasn’t excelled when used. Somebody will take a chance on him, but it’s going to be a gamble and he’s certainly going to be taking a steep pay cut.
Vital Stats: 29 years old, 6’, 188lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 900,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 81GP – 13G – 32A – 45PTS, -2
2008-09 Contextual: 9th QualComp, 2nd QualTeam, -50 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: +6.2 Corsi/60, 2.09 EVPTS/60, 3.23 GFON/60, 3.11 GAON/60
Faceoff ace Dominic Moore plays a versatile game with a physical dimension, but his sudden offensive outburst surprised everyone. Moore’s been an NHL player since the lockout, recording 18, 17 and 17 points over the previous three seasons before jumping to 45 this season. He’s looking for a big raise from the 900,000 dollars he earned this past season, but this is definitely a buyer beware scenario. He’s been a defensive specialist in years past and was frequently mentioned in that capacity this season, but it seems clear that his role was changed; he was put in offensive positions all season long.
Vital Stats: 32 years old, 6’1”, 220lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 575,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 80GP – 31G – 35A – 66PTS, +1 (AHL)
2008-09 Contextual: N/A
2008-09 Advanced Stats: N/A
Only one year removed from a full NHL season in Tampa Bay, Darche had a very decent season in the AHL and has scored well whenever he’s sent there. He’s got decent size and offensive acumen, but his defensive play could be better and he’s not a great skater. He’s probably not going to climb beyond the fourth line at this point.
Vital Stats: 29 years old, 6’4”, 247lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 525,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 28GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, -1
2008-09 Contextual: 11th QualComp, 3rd QualTeam, +EV Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -9.6 Corsi/60, 0.54 EVPTS/60, 0.54 GFON/60, 1.61 GAON/60
Andrew Peters is an amazingly consistent player. Over his five season NHL career, he’s finished with between 0 and 2 points, and his plus minus has been between -1 and -4 every year. He’s a reserve player who fills the enforcer role but doesn’t add much else to the roster.
Vital Stats: 28 years old, 6’, 207lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 475,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 45GP – 7G – 5A – 12PTS, +4
2008-09 Contextual: 13th QualComp, 5th QualTeam, +9 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -9.1 Corsi/60, 1.82 EVPTS/60, 1.99 GFON/60, 1.32 GAON/60
A very decent fourth line option – in fact, “decent” is the word for him – Ellis has decent size, decent two-way ability, and decent offensive instincts. Nothing to get excited about here; he is likely just a useful reserve player.
Vital Stats: 36 years old, 5’11”, 206lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 3,333,333 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 80GP – 8G – 37A – 45PTS, +2
2008-09 Contextual: 3rd QualComp, 8th QualTeam, -23 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: +7.8 Corsi/60, 1.06 EVPTS/60, 2.95 GFON/60, 2.66 GAON/60
The smart money says that Spacek re-signs with the Sabres; he’s expressed a willingness to stay, and the team certainly needs him. He’s a puck-moving top-four defenseman who plays an intelligent game, although he’s often underrated because of his diminutive size. Any team looking for more mobility on their back end should be interested in Spacek.
Vital Stats: 41 years old, 6’2”, 197lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 1,850,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 57GP – 2G – 15A – 17PTS, -4
2008-09 Contextual: 7th QualComp, 6th QualTeam, +13 Def/Off Faceoffs
2008-09 Advanced Stats: -3.2 Corsi/60, 0.77 EVPTS/60, 2.24 GFON/60, 2.55 GAON/60
Teppo Numminen hasn’t decided yet whether he wishes to retire or not; he will be 41 next season, and after more than 1300 NHL games he is slowing down. He holds the NHL record for the most games by a European-developed player, but now is a bottom-pairing defenseman.
Vital Stats: 30 years old, 6’0”, 189lbs
2008-09 Cap Hit: 800,000 US$
2008-09 Basic Stats: 21GP, 9W – 6L – 1OTL, 2.74GAA, 0.912SV%, 0 SO
Mikael Tellqvist has always been a bit of a question mark at the NHL level. He put up good numbers in the AHL, but has had two good seasons and two bad seasons since the lockout. On the plus side of things, his two good seasons have been the last two, so it’s entirely possible that he’s found his comfort zone. If he can maintain his current level of play he’s a very respectable backup goaltender. Still, if I were to bet on a career backup/1B goaltender taking a run at a starting job next season (in the right situation), I could do worse than to bet on Tellqvist.