The Buffalo Sabres plan on having a younger roster next season and hope to continue to bolster their core this summer.
Teams can meet and speak with unrestricted free agents starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but are not able to sign a player to a contract until Friday at Noon. General manager Darcy Regier told the media Tuesday morning at First Niagara Center that the team will look to take advantage of talking with free agents.
“The focus is going to be on supporting this younger group, this younger core group. And certainly you want good players, but you want players that are committed to being professionals, being examples, being contributors,” Regier said. “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 that the front office is looking for the right type of player that meets their needs.
“It means fit. And the fit may be positional; it may be character; it may be to add some scoring if we need some scoring depending on whether or not we get involved in the trade market, which is forming now that the draft is over a little more,” Regier said.
Development camp for prospects will open Wednesday July 10. The three-day camp will conclude with a 4 p.m. scrimmage on Friday, July 12. (CLICK TO PURCHASE TICKETS) All of Buffalo’s picks from the 2013 draft are expected to attend, according to Kevin Devine, the director of amateur scouting. Forwards Johan Larsson and Joel Armia have prior commitments scheduled and have been excused.
The Sabres are looking to diversify their defensive pairings and already have three right-handed shots on the roster in Tyler Myers, Mark Pysyk and the recently-acquired Jamie McBain. That might make it difficult for 2013 first-round pick Rasmus Ristolainen to make the roster out of camp, but Devine said it also depends on the work he puts in.
“We’re going to give [Ristolainen] every opportunity,” Devine said. “He is 18. He’s got three guys that have proven they can play in the NHL [ahead of him]. We’ll just see at training camp.”
Sabres coach Ron Rolston has a relationship with McBain that stems from their involvement in the U.S. national team development program. Buffalo acquired McBain and the 35th overall pick (J.T. Compher) from the Carolina Hurricanes during Sunday’s draft for defenseman Andrej Sekera.
“[McBain is] a good puck mover and can play on your power play unit, probably the second one. He had a tough year last year,” Regier said. “…We look for him to get back on track career-wise.”
Restricted free agent Cody Hodgson has been tendered a contract, according to Regier and said he is waiting to hear back from Hodgson’s agent.
Regier also noted that center Mikhail Grigorenko will be on the Sabres’ roster next season as they will not send him to juniors and he is not eligible to play in the AHL. They also hope to re-sign forward Matt Ellis and make him the captain in Rochester if he isn’t playing with the Sabres.
“It would be fair to characterize that I’m actively finding out what the [trade] marketplace is like and it’s not limited to those two players,” Regier said.
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