By John Vogl
The Sabres have tried to make a big splash in free agency since Terry Pegula took over the team. It appears that trend will change.
General Manager Darcy Regier said today that Buffalo's prime targets in free agency, which opens Friday, will be players who can complement the current roster rather than headline it.
"The focus is going to be on supporting this younger group, this younger core group," Regier said in First Niagara Center. "Certainly, you want good players, but you want players who are committed to being professionals, being examples, being contributors. Those are the most important characteristics and the most important things we can do organizationally to make sure we progress in the direction we need to go."
Regier said the trade market has begun to form as the NHL heads toward its shopping season, and Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller remain available.
"I’m actively finding out what the marketplace is like, not limited to those two players," Regier said. "There will be a number of teams we’ll speak to regarding not just the goaltending position but other positions, as well."
In other news:
*Mikhail Grigorenko will be with the Sabres all next season. The team's top prospect shuttled between Buffalo and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, but Regier said Grigorenko will not be returned to juniors again. He is not yet eligible to play in the American Hockey League because of his age.
*Sabres coach Ron Rolston has zeroed in an assistant coach, and a hiring is expected in the next few days. Rolston's longtime assistant, Chadd Cassidy, will not be joining Rolston in Buffalo. Cassidy took over as interim coach in Rochester after Rolston was promoted and will remain with the Amerks. Regier did not commit to saying Cassidy will be the head coach.
*The Sabres are close to finalizing a contract with forward Matt Ellis. Regier said Ellis will be the captain in Rochester if he fails to make the Sabres.
*Sabres defensemen Alexander Sulzer and Adam Pardy will be allowed to hit the unrestricted free agent market without getting a contract offer from the team.
*Regier said the Sabres have tried to begin contract talks with restricted free agent Cody Hodgson, and they are waiting for his agent, Ritch Winter, to call them back.
taggedFree agency | Mikhail Grigorenko