The Buffalo Sabres Sign Two Free Agents They Desperately Needed
It's July 1st, which means it's Canada Day. It also means that it's the first day of NHL free agency, which returns to July 1st for the first time since before the pandemic.
The Sabres are entering free agency this summer with a few less needs than they had last year. However, the Sabres missed the postseason because of two reasons: goaltending and the inability to play good defense.
The offense was fine, as Buffalo was top-five in NHL scoring. The defense needed help in free agency or with a trade and general manager Kevyn Adams addressed that just an hour into free agency.
The Sabres have announced they have signed veteran defensemen, Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton. Johnson gets a one-year deal with $3.25 million. Clifton gets a three-year deal with $10 million.
Johnson was the number one overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. The 35-year-old is past his prime and while he had less than desirable analytic numbers last season, his leadership and stable play on the back end will help.
Clifton comes from the Boston Bruins and while he had some ups and downs last season, is a good second-pair defenseman that won't light up the scoreboard but plays solid defense and likes to mix it up.
The Sabres may add another forward but they're more set there. However, goaltending might be something they address.
It's possible that Buffalo decides that Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is fine to pair with Devon Levi, but the Sabres need to break the playoff drought in 2024...a veteran goalie who is more proven might be the play, but that remains to be seen.