OPINION: Sabres continue to have talks with Linus Ullmark

NHL Free Agency begins on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – NHL Free Agency starts Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET. Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said he still would like to keep goalie Linus Ullmark and negotiations continue between both sides.

Defenseman Jake McCabe wants out, and has told Adams that he’s going to test the market.

Back on June 4, Adams was on with "The Instigators" on WGR Sports Radio 550 and revealed that negotiations with restricted free agent Rasmus Dahlin had begun.

Recently, defenseman Cale Makar signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Seth Jones inked a six-year, $32.4 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, while Miro Heiskanen got an eight-year, $67.6 million with the Dallas Stars.

Heiskanen was the third overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, while Makar went fourth overall.

As far as what’s available in free agency, lets start in goal.

Tuukka Rask would be looking for a Stanley Cup contender. Others out there include Martin Jones, Freddie Andersen, Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby, Petr Mrazek, Philipp Grubauer and James Reimer.

If I were the Sabres, I wouldn’t at all be looking at the high end players who are also older. They include Gabe Landeskog, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Suter, Dougie Hamilton and David Krejci.

I think free agency is an awful way to build your team, and it almost always leaves you with contracts you regret in three or four years. I call it "stupid time" for the NHL. Buffalo has had huge free agency regret with Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall and most of the minor signings too.

I think Adams should be looking for players in the bottom-six that know their roles and do them well. The Tampa Bay Lightning hardly had any of those players and were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After that, they kept their stars, but added players like Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman and Pat Maroon to go with Yanni Gourde, which gave them the proper mix to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

My No. 1 priority would be Coleman, who is 29-years-old and made $1.8 million this past season. Since the Sabres will need help to get to the cap floor of $60,200,000, I wouldn’t be opposed to overpaying Coleman or Nick Ritchie. If Jack Eichel is traded, the Sabres will be about $24 million away from the cap floor.

Ritchie really helped the Boston Bruins to not get pushed around. He also contributed to the offense, scoring 15 goals and 26 points in 56 games. Coleman played 55 games and had 14 goals and 31 points. He’s another excellent role player.

Casey Cizikas would be a fine addition at center. He’s 30-years-old, so the Sabres would have to keep that contract at around three years.

David Savard is a right-handed shooting defenseman that was traded to the Lightning this year and won the Stanley Cup. He’s 30-years-old and made $4 million this past season. If you could keep a contract at about that money and for three years or less, I would be interested in him.

If Eichel is gone, Adams needs to add, at least, $24 million to the team. Some of that will come by re-signing Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Asplund, Henri Jokiharju and a couple of goalies. However, he has to acquire more players, which could also arrive via the Eichel trade.

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