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The Sabres Observer

Sabres 30 Watch - Part 1: Defensemen

Two years of misery finally in the rearview mirror, and the Sabres roster tear-down is complete.

Buffalo has almost $30M in cap space to fill for the first season of the Jack Eichel era, so It's time to have fun and start shopping.

I've taken the liberty of reviewing 30 hand-selected players -- free agents and others possibly available to acquire via trade -- for Sabres fans to watch this offseason.

Many of them are on the list due to being the big names coming from the latest buzz around the hockey world, and others made it because I think they'd be a good fit in Buffalo.

In today's first installment, let's look at defensemen.

(name, age, status or cap hit/term)

Dougie Hamilton, 21, RFA

The ninth overall pick in 2011 is coming into his own with the Bruins. Career highs last season with 10 goals and 42 points. While Boston is having cap issues, it's a safe bet they'll find a way to bring him back. Highly unlikely that Hamilton is going anywhere.

Dion Phaneuf, 30, $7M per season through 2020-21

While it's no secret the Leafs have listened to offers for Phaneuf and forward Phil Kessel, his contract, crossing to the wrong side of age 30 and the assets you'd have to give up to acquire him makes him a bad fit for the Sabres. The Leafs captain is allowed a 12-team list to where he can be traded, and it's not likely Buffalo would make the cut anyway.

Mike Green, 29, UFA *** EDITORS CHOICE ***

Longtime Capital had his best offensive season (10 goals, 45 points) in five years. Was 2nd in the league in points per 60 minutes by a defenseman despite being in a third-pairing role. Led Caps regular defensemen in 5-on-5 Corsi For %.

Cody Franson, 27, UFA

After putting up some decent numbers last season in Toronto (32 points in 55 games), things went a bit sour after his trade to Nashville as he seemed to lose Peter Laviolette's trust. Good puck mover with some upside if you don't mind overpaying.

Matt Irwin, 27, UFA

Took a step backwards with San Jose last season and was even a healthy scratch for a number of games, but played better in the second half. Noteworthy due to being a UFA defenseman at age 27.

Mark Fraser, 28, UFA

Gritty third-pair blueliner with the Devils last season. Character player similar in style to Mike Weber but at times more effective. Recovered from serious injury after blocking a Milan Lucic slapshot with his face. Could be good addition to Rochester if unable to crack Sabres lineup.

If the Sabres are interested in spending some money on a free agent blueliner, I'd set my sights on Green. Buffalo's biggest problem is lack of scoring, and an offensive defenseman who could boost the power play would be a nice way to make the Sabres a good team sooner.

dd@kuklaskorner.com

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Sabres draft contest - Win a $20 gift card and a shirt from Amherst Pizza & Ale House! Just pick the second player (Eichel will most certainly be the first) whom the Sabres will select in next week's draft!

Filed in: | The Sabres Observer | Permalink
  Tags: sabres+free+agents, sabres+trade+rumors

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]