Sabres Add Depth In Free Agency

Buffalo very quietly had a very nice July 1st by adding a lot of depth. Depth was a huge problem for Buffalo last season, and they were able to address the depth concerns at all positions today. They were also able to fill a couple of holes on the Sabres roster as well as possibly bolstering the Rochester lineup to the point where they may be a lock to make the playoffs next season.

Chad Johnson
1 Year $2,500,000 AAV

Chad Johnson makes his return to the Sabres organization after a 1-year stint with the Calgary Flames. Johnson had a nice season in Buffalo for the 2015-2016 season as he posted a .920 save percentage. Johnson had a great start to the season with Calgary but his numbers regressed as the season went on. In my opinion, Johnson is one of the better backup goaltenders in the NHL and this was a nice signing for Buffalo. 2.5 mil for 1 year is a nice contract for a good backup goalie and adding Johnson to the team allows Linus Ullmark another season to develop in Rochester as their number 1 goaltender. No doubt Ullmark is ready to handle a backup role in Buffalo but it’s probably best for his development if he gets 60+ games in Rochester.

Adam Wilcox 
1 Year 2-Way Contract

Wilcox is most likely pencilled in to be Ullmark’s backup in Rochester for next season. Wilcox put up great numbers for the Springfield Thunderbirds after being traded to Florida from the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is a similar situation here as what Botterill did with bringing Johnson here. They brought Wilcox into the fold so Jonas Johansson can get a lot of starts for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. There’s no point in having a good young goaltender in Jonas just sitting on the bench for the vast majority of the season in Rochester.

Matt Tennyson
2 Year 2-Way Contract

Terrific depth signing for the blueline. Tennyson played 45 games for the Carolina Hurricanes last season and also wore an A for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL. Tennyson will compete with Josh Gorges, Justin Falk, and Taylor Fedun for the 7th defenseman job in Buffalo but it’s very likely that Tennyson will be in Roch next year. Buffalo’s defensive depth has been drastically improved now that Tennyson, Fedun, and Falk are pencilled in for Rochester.

Kevin Porter
Left Wing
2 Year 2-Way Contract

The former Hobey Baker winner comes back to Buffalo. Porter is most likely the favorite to be the next captain of Rochester next season as Cal O’Reilly is now no longer in the organization now that he’s signed with the Minnesota Wild. Porter served as captain of the Amerks for the 2012-2013 season. Porter had a nice season in Wilkes-Barre last year as he registered 46 points in 69 games. Porter is a guy that can help mentor the younger players in Rochester. He can also be an option to be called up in case of injuries.

Kyle Criscuolo
2 Year 2-Way Contract

Criscuolo carved out a nice collegiate career with Harvard and was their captain for his junior and senior years. He’ll reunite with Buffalo’s own Sean Malone in Rochester for next season. Both of them played for Harvard. Criscuolo signed an AHL contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins and helped them win the Calder Cup in 2017. He put up 41 points in 76 games for the Griffins. I won’t be surprised if Criscuolo is the top line center for the Amerks for next season.

Benoit Pouliot
Left Wing
1 Year $1,150,000 AAV

Pouliot was bought out of his contract yesterday by the Edmonton Oilers. This is a terrific signing for the Sabres. Pouliot can play up and down the lineup for the Sabres but I’d expect him to play a 3rd line role for the team. He’s a fast skater and he’ll also help contribute to the 2nd power play unit that wasn’t nearly as effective as the 1st unit. Pouliot had a rough year in Edmonton last year but I think he can rebound and get back to being a 35 point player. This is a low-risk high reward signing for Buffalo. It’s only a 1-year deal at a low cap hit. Once again this is a nice depth signing for the Sabres.

Jacob Josefson
1 Year $700,000 AAV

Again, another good depth signing. Josefson will in all likelihood be an extra forward in Buffalo next season along with Nic Deslauriers. Josefson was New Jersey’s 1st round pick in 2009 and he really never lived up to the hype. If he doesn’t make the Sabres roster he’ll just help out the Amerks make their push to the Calder Cup playoffs. If Josefson can stay healthy, he may be able to contribute for the Sabres next year.

Seth Griffith
Right Wing
1 Year $650,000 AAV

Griffith is a guy that I’ve wanted Buffalo to acquire for a very long time. He has been bounced around a few time between Boston, Florida, and Toronto and has been waived a couple of times. Griffith had a great junior career with the London Knights of the OHL and he became a top prospect for the Bruins. Griffith stepped right into Providence and also was very productive but whenever he got the call-up to the NHL he just couldn’t get it done. He started to fall out of favor in Boston and then bounced around a few times and now he’s found his way to his 4th organization. Jason Botterill believes Griffith has good offensive upside and I agree wholeheartedly with him. In the right situation I think Griffith can take the next step and with Phil Housley at the helm now he may do just that. If he can’t take that next step he’ll go to Rochester and be an unbelieveable player for them no doubt about it.

For more updates during the offseason, follow Sabres Fanatics on Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow me on Twitter @JoeSFBSN

Leave a Reply

Want more hockey?The Charge– a free weekly Sabres newsletter

Bite-sized Sabres news and analysis, straight to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: