Newly hired Sabres GM Jason Botterill has said on multiple occasions that he prefers to build from within the organization, not through free agency. That being said, after the NHL Draft last week Botterill told reporters he and his staff would explore all options, including adding an unrestircted free agent.
Five intriguing unrestricted free agents the Sabres should consider (in no particular order):
Columbus Blue Jackets -- 81GP, 18G, 32A, 50P
How in the world is Sam Gagner only 27-years-old? Doesn't it seem like he's been in the league forever?
Gagner's tenth season was his most successful statistically, bouncing back with 50 points after an abysmal 16 points in 2015-2016. His struggles two-years-ago allowed the Blue Jackets to sign him to a one-year, $650,000 deal.
Believe pending UFA C Sam Gagner is visiting Vancouver today, checking out the #Canucks and vice-versa.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 28, 2017
Gagner will get a hefty raise, but how much more is he worth? If he can be signed for something reasonable (less than $4M per year) the Sabres should consider adding him into the mix.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- 56GP, 5G, 14A, 19P
Botterill shouldn't be in the market to throw a big contract at 33-year-old defenseman. However, there's no denying that Daley would immediately jump into the Sabres starting lineup, likely in Buffalo's top two pairs.
According to multiple reports, Daley has spoken with several teams and appears to be one of the more popular players on the open market. The Sabres shouldn't hand him a big contract, but he's an intriguing option if his market value is reasonable.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- 80GP, 18G, 19A, 37P
Adding Bonino just makes too much sense. The Sabres desperately need to add another solid forward to their roster and Bonino is a versatile player who can contribute in almost any situation.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, at least ten teams are interested in Bonino. With Botterill now steering the ship in Buffalo, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Sabres were one of those teams.
Many teams in the market for a center have connected with Nick Bonino. At least 10 teams are said to have serious interest at this stage.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 29, 2017
Florida Panthers -- 68 games played, 17G, 31A, 48P
Vanek proved last year with Detroit and Florida that he can still play at a high level. Brining Vanek back to Buffalo could sound crazy, but after Evander Kane, the Sabres next left-winger on their depth chart is Marcus Foligno.
Alex Nylander will likely need another year in the AHL, especially with Botterill at the helm. Adding Vanek brings a viable scoring threat who likely won't require an arm and a leg. Just imagine how fun this top-six could be:
Vanek - O'Reilly- Okposo
Kane - Eichel - Reinhart
Michael Del Zotto
Philadelphia Flyers -- 51GP, 6G, 12A, 18P
A few years ago many believed Del Zotto would evolve into a top-pair defenseman. Instead, he was in and out of the Flyers lineup last season. Consistency was the 27-year-olds biggest issue, especially in his own end.
Adding Del Zotto should only be explored if he can be signed to a deal that pays him much less than he was making with the Flyers ($3.75M). His puck-moving prowess is intriguing with Phil Housley on the bench, making this a low-risk move that could pay off.