The list, which does not include any signings by the Sabres, looks at how impactful each signing will be and how the signing will help their new team in their quest for a Stanley Cup.
The first former Sabres player to appear on the list is Thomas Vanek, who ranked at number 10. Vanek signed a three year, $19.5 million contract with the Minnesota Wild. Proteau wrote:
"Granted, Vanek didn’t help his contract negotiating stance with a poor playoff showing for the Canadiens, but his regular-season production has been dependably above-average – and given that Minnesota struggled to put pucks in nets last season (their 207 goals-for was third-worst in the Western Conference), he’ll help a great deal and isn’t locked up to a contract with an onerous term."
Vanek left the Sabres last season in a trade with the New York Islanders. Vanek was later traded by the Islanders to the Montreal Canadiens.
The second former Sabres player to make the list is defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who topped the list with his new one year, $4 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Proteau said:
"There’s no doubt Ehrhoff’s 10-year, $40-million contract with Buffalo was a disaster, but that’s as much about the total collapse of the Sabres as it is about the defenseman’s sub-par play. After the Sabres bought him out this summer, he could’ve signed a huge deal with any team, which makes the Pens’ coup of bringing him in on a one-year contract at the same salary cap hit he had in Buffalo all the more impressive."
Ehrhoff's play for the Sabres declined each season, as did the talent on the team. When the Sabres bought-out the defenseman, it came as somewhat of a surprise.
The complete list is as follows:
10. Thomas Vanek – Minnesota Wild
9. Ales Hemsky – Dallas Stars
8. Radim Vrbata – Vancouver Canucks
7. Anton Stralman – Tampa Bay Lightning
6. Daniel Winnik – Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Manny Malhotra – Montreal Canadiens
4. Thomas Greiss – Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Brad Richards – Chicago Blackhawks
2. Paul Stastny – St. Louis Blues
1. Christian Ehrhoff – Pittsburgh Penguins
While the Sabres didn't make the list of teams to make one of the best signings in the NHL, the team did improve greatly between the draft and free agency.
While these signings look good on paper, the regular season will begin in October and then these free agent additions will be put to the test for real.
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