Thing is, if history is any indication, that's not going to happen.
For as much attention as free agency gets every July 1, the open market has been most unkind to the Sabres overall. Through much of the history of free agency in the National Hockey League, Buffalo's either seen big names skip out of town (Chris Drury and Daniel Briere) or added players that generally either were not even worthy of journeyman status (Mike Grier, Jocelyn Thibault) or crashed and burned (Ville Leino).
And with a relatively thin crop of top-tier entering free agency in 2012, the Sabres will have even slimmer pickings from which to draw. In other words: Don't expect any miracles.
A perusal of the Sabres' free agency history reveals only a few names that are even remotely worth mentioning as good signings.
- Teppo Numminen, 2005. The crafty veteran offered just the sort of backline presence the free-wheeling, post-lockout Sabres needed to help Ryan Miller backstop the surprising Sabres to back-to-back Eastern Conference finals runs. He became an immediately leader, leading by example with steady play and a calming locker room presence. He remains on the team as one of its assistant coaches.
- Jordan Leopold, 2010. Leopold's signing didn't – and still might not – turn heads. But he's quietly been a rock on defense in his two seasons in the blue and gold. His name was seemingly called at least every other game in 2011-12 for his offensive output, and he was the steadying force on a blueline that nearly crumbled due to injuries. On a team loaded at defense, he might secretly be the best player manning the blueline.
- Christian Ehrhoff, 2011. If Leopold isn't the best defenseman on the team, then Ehrhoff probably would be. The big man signed a 10-year deal in Terry Pegula's first off-season as owner. Ehrhoff was solid in his first season ont he Sabres and was a catalyst in their late-season playoff run. Even if he does not play out the remaining nine years on the deal, the Sabres will likely get their money's worth for however long he's in Buffalo.