Since the Sabres ended their season at the end of the regular season, Sabres fans are looking for anything; there are tons of opinion pieces floating around, but finally there was some concrete news coming from the Buffalo Sabres. Two major announcements were made surrounding the Sabres this week; 1. The Sabres announced they had renewed the contract of Alexander Sulzer. 2. The Sabres organization would likely be losing prospect Paul Szczechura to the KHL next season.
Let’s start off with Alexander Sulzer, who was signed to a 1 year deal worth $725,000 which will allow him to skip out on free agency this summer. The Sabres acquired Sulzer from the Vancouver Canucks on Trade Deadline along with Cody Hodgson, (they were separate trades but both with the Canucks). He was really a throw in after the Sabres were able to steal away prized prospect Hodgson, but Sulzer proved to be a solid addition on the Sabres blue line. In 15 games with the blue and gold he scored 3 goals and added 5 assists for 8 points and was a very solid defenceman in his short time in Buffalo. The reason the Sabres signed him to a one year deal? So they could see what he could with a full season in the NHL, Sulzer has only played a career 89 games in the NHL a full season would do him well and perhaps even improve his stock. Another reason he was resigned is the fact he’s a “no-risk” player, he didn’t get a huge multi-million dollar contract for 8 years and teams are always looking for defenceman to help improve their team if only for a rental period, making him a valuable player come trade deadline. Not to mention he has the potential to be a solid 5th or 6th defenceman for the Sabres so they don’t have to get rid of him, it’s a win win for the Sabres.
Next we move to the possibility of losing Paul Szczechura, it was announced on Tuesday by his agent that he had received a contract to join the HC Lev in the KHL for the 2012-2013 NHL season. It’s not just the fact that the Sabres are losing a player, but the fact that the KHL is beginning to lure players from the NHL to the KHL. Now Szczechura is still property of the Sabres and they do have the opportunity to “match” the contract given by the KHL in order to make him stay in the NHL. He was one of the few Amerks that was able to really produce consistently, in 57 games in the AHL he scored 21 goals and totalled 46 points, nearly a point per game rate! He was also called up the Buffalo Sabres for 9 games in which he scored 1 goal and added 3 assists. The Decision by Szczechura is really a spur of the moment thing, he was offered a contract, thought it would be fun to try playing over in Europe but still wants to come back to Buffalo in a year.
“I wanted to try something new” said Szczechura “It’s a one year thing and we’ll see how it goes. There were always thoughts of coming back (to Rochester)” “This was just something I wanted to try.”
As aforementioned the Sabres have until June 25th to offer a contract and enforce their NHL rights to force Szczechura to remain in Buffalo and GM Darcy Regier stated he plans on qualifying all their restricted free agents. So it’s not a sure thing that Szczechura will be leaving for Europe but things could get very interesting if the Sabres do indeed force him to stay in the Sabres organization for next season.
The offseason is getting started in Buffalo, they have already signed a player and potentially lost a player. Who knows whats next for the Sabres but expect a busy offseason from Terry Pegula and Darcy Regier.