With the 2022-2023 NHL season one month away, most teams have locked up the majority of their roster. Sure, there will be some pieces in play with potential AHLers making the opening night cut, and players either heading back to juniors or not, but by and large, most teams have their core put together.
That said, it’s now September 7 and there are still some unrestricted free agents on the market who could be enticing pieces – not necessarily for the buffalo sabers, but for other teams, including those in the division. Here’s a look at five interesting UFAs who remain unsigned for the upcoming season.
Defense – 33 years old – 6’0 – 210 pounds
Career Stats (regular season): 834 GP – 115 W – 352 A – 467 PTS
Draft: 43rd overall / 2007 (Montreal Canadians)
Honestly… how is Subban not signed yet? This is the one that’s wild to me. He’s a big-name player and a solid defenseman with over 900 NHL games (regular season + playoffs) under his belt. After seven years with the Canadiens, he spent three years with the Predators, then joined the Devils for the last three seasons. Subban’s off-ice character, including his fun personality and his commitment to charity work, is also notable. And of course, do not forget his brother, Malcolm, who is signed with the Sabers organization.
His previous contract was a whopper, with a $9 million AAV (and same cap hit), originally singed in 2014. Most of that money in recent years was buried in signing bonuses.
Would PK Subban be a good fit for the Sabers?
Forward (RW/C) – 29 years old – 5’11 – 184 pounds
Career Stats (regular season): 316 GP – 53 W – 76 A – 129 PTS
Rodrigues really blossomed last season with the Penguins. He appeared in all 82 games and recorded 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points, a new career high. In the playoffs, he appeared in seven games and had five points. Of course, any Sabers fan reading this is probably familiar with E-Rod’s history with the Sabers. He signed with the organization and joined Buffalo/Rochester in 2015-16, then spent a few years going back & forth between the AHL and NHL. In his lone full season in Buffalo, he had 29 points (9-20) in 74 games.
His last contract was a one-year deal worth $1 million. Per Jeff Marek, Rodrigues’ situation may be settled this week.
Would Evan Rodrigues be a good fit for the Sabers?
Forward (LW/RW) – 28 years old – 6’0 – 204 pounds
Career Stats (regular season): 230 GP – 32 G – 34 A – 66 PTS
ZAR has five NHL seasons under his belt, mostly spent with the Pittsburgh Penguins. After being traded in February as part of a package for Rickard Rakell, he joined the Anaheim Ducks for 17 games but is now a UFA. Last season, I have played a combined 69 games between the two teams and had 15 points (5-10). Per PenguinPoop.com (yes, that’s a real link), ZAR far exceeded his Expected Goals-For Percentage and shone defensively last season. The potential is certainly there for him, it seems, if he’s given the right opportunity.
His last contract was a one-year deal worth $1.725 million, signed with the Penguins in 2021.
Would Zach Aston-Reese be a good fit for the Sabers?
Forward (LW/RW) – 27 years old – 5’10 – 192 pounds
Career Stats (regular season): 269 GP – 35 W – 27 A – 62 PTS
Draft: 121st overall / 2013 (chicago blackhawks)
Motte has bounced around a bit in his six seasons in the NHL so far. After being drafted by Chicago, he spent only one season in the organization before splitting the next year between Columbus and Vancouver. After five years with the Canucks, he was traded to the Rangers in March 2022 for a fourth-round draft pick. (Fun fact: the deal that brought him from Columbus to Vancouver? The return was… Thomas Vanek!) He’s a speedy forward, gets involved in the forecheck and can play physically, too. His off-ice character of him, including his mental health initiatives and support of women’s hockey, is also notable.
His last contract was a two-year deal with Vancouver with an AAV of $1,225 million, including $1,450 million in base salary in the final year.
Would Tyler Motte be a good fit for the Buffalo Sabers?
Defense – 31 years old – 6’1 – 195 pounds
Career Stats (regular season): 520 GP – 19 W – 100 A – 119 PTS
Draft: 12th overall / 2009 (New York Islanders)
de Haan spent the first few seasons of his NHL career with the Islanders, then played one season in Carolina before joining the Blackhawks. Last season in Chicago, he appeared in 69 games and had eight points. (His career-best season came in 2016-17, when he played 82 games with the Isles and had 25 points). de Haan’s CF% and FF% were consistently between 43-45% over the last few years in Chicago.
His last contract was a four-year deal signed with Carolina with an AAV of $4,550 million, signed in 2018.