Alexander Sulzer is no longer a rental property. The Buffalo Sabres took him off the market with a one-year $725,000 contract.
Sulzer, who was originally thought of as a toss-in to the Hodgson/Kassian trade was solid for the Sabres in the stretch run and earned himself an extended stay with the club. Sulzer has gone well beyond the pleasant surprise he was in March to a full-blown upgrade for the Buffalo blue line.
Remember, Marc-Andre Gragnani was swapped for Sulzer as each were pending free agents at the end of this season (Gragnani was an RFA). If the Sabres kept him, Gragnani would have likely been tendered on the basis that just about every RFA gets a tender on a yearly basis. That would mean he would have been in the conversation for a roster spot yet again in the fall. Now he is not and most fans are rejoicing over his absence.
Sulzer is now one of eight defensemen who will be vying for playing time next season. If T.J. Brennan is offered – and accepts – his tender, that number will climb to nine. Sulzer fit well as a fifth or sixth defenseman late in the year and showed patience and consistency in the defensive zone. Not to mention, his chemistry with countryman Christian Ehrhoff made for a sound defensive pairing.
I expect to see Sulzer as Buffalo’s sixth defenseman with Mike Weber being bumped to the seventh spot. In fact, I would even go so far as to say Weber is expendable based on this signing. Of course, Weber’s value may not be very high based on what he brings to the table for most teams.
Overall, this signing is very impressive for the Sabres, who received him as little more than a security blanket in their trade for Cody Hodgson.