Jason Arnott

Derek Roy

Sabres need a center, Regier says trade most likely

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In the aftermath of yesterday’s Derek Roy-for-Steve Ott/Adam Pardy trade, one thing was clear  — the Sabres need to add depth down the middle.

Roy was a top-two center in Buffalo and, perhaps most importantly, a veteran presence in the lineup. Tim Connolly and Paul Gaustad also left the Sabres over the last year, leaving the team pretty inexperienced at the position.

Currently, Buffalo’s depth chart at center features a pair of 22-year-olds (Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis) with 2012 first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko (18) potentially in the mix.

Ott can play in the middle — he’s a good faceoff guy — but said “90 percent” of his career has been spent at left wing.

So, what does GM Darcy Regier plan to do?

Here’s John Vogl of the Buffalo News:

The Sabres failed in their attempt to convert Ville Leino from wing to center last season, so finding a natural pivot is paramount. Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson head the Sabres’ depth chart in the middle, but they are both only 22 years old and have not faced the pressure of being a No. 1 center.

“We certainly weren’t looking and aren’t going to move Tyler or Cody,” Regier said, “and will have to address, see if we can get a little bigger in the middle to complement those guys. . . . It’s more likely a trade than it is anything else.”

After looking at what’s left on the UFA market, it’s not surprising Regier will entertain some trades. It’s possible the best five remaining centers are Jason Arnott, Daymond Langkow, Kyle Wellwood, Dominic Moore and Jeff Halpern — none of which really fit what Buffalo is looking for.

Related: Sabres GM Regier looking for the “right centerman”

UFA spotlight — Sheldon Souray

Sheldon Souray
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All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Sheldon Souray (D)

Age: 35

2011-12 cap hit: $1.65 million

The skinny: Souray’s goals appear to have shifted with the free agent market.

Originally, he stated his desire to stay in Dallas after a successful comeback season with the Stars, one that saw him notch 21 points in 65 games while averaging over 20 minutes per night.

Then things changed.

A report from Fan 590’s Andy Strickland claimed Souray rejected Dallas’ one-year, $3 million dollar offer, suggesting a couple variables entered the equation.

One, length of term. Souray probably wanted more than a single season, given he’s been a hockey nomad over the last three years (Edmonton, Hershey and Dallas).

Two, Souray likely recognized the market was thinning out. When he (allegedly) rejected Dallas’s offer, UFA defensemen Johnny Oduya, Jamie McBain, Alex Sulzer and Clayton Stoner had already been signed.

Since then, Barret Jackman, Brad Stuart, Shane O’Brien, Dennis Wideman, Hal Gill and Cory Sarich have come off the market as well.

The more the market dwindles the higher Souray’s value becomes. He also benefits by having a particular skill set, namely his booming shot (left-handed!) and ability to man the power play.

On that note, St. Louis had a mediocre power play last season and GM Doug Armstrong recently told BND.com he’s in the market for a left-handed defenseman.

As last summer’s signings of Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner suggest, St. Louis isn’t afraid to bring aboard veterans — could there be a fit for Souray?

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UFA spotlight – Jamie Langenbrunner

Jamie Langenbrunner
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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Jamie Langenbrunner (RW)

Age: 36

2011-12 cap hit: $2.75 million

The skinny:

While it was difficult to gather much information concerning the future of fellow veteran forward Jason Arnott, the general feeling is that the Blues want Jamie Langenbrunner back. Jeremy Rutherford’s report suggests as much while Michael Russo advises the Minnesota Wild to grab the winger if the Blues let him go.

Langenbrunner’s numbers were hardly impressive last season — he received just 14:37 minutes of ice time per game, scoring 24 points in 70 games.

On the other hand, the Blues are a youngish team and Langenbrunner’s won two Stanley Cups on two different teams, so he’s got the wily veteran thing going for him.

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UFA spotlight – Jason Arnott

Jason Arnott
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All week leading up to Sunday, July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.

Jason Arnott (C)

Age: 37

2011-12 cap hit: $2.875 million

The skinny:

At his age – he’ll turn 38 by the time next season begins – Jason Arnott likely won’t have a ton of offers to sift through. In fact, he might just want to root for the St. Louis Blues to follow GM Doug Armstrong’s stated plan of making limited moves.

Even so, he could get squeezed out amid the team’s continuing youth movement. The playing time he received in 2011-12 was surely augmented by the rash of injuries that struck the Blues. He responded respectably but not spectacularly, scoring 17 goals and 34 points in 72 games before only generating a goal in seven postseason contests.

Age and limited productivity will hold him back, yet you can’t totally discount his size and shot. Also, the Washington Capitals raved about Arnott’s leadership qualities in 2010-11.

Not much has been made about his league-wide appeal, but if he doesn’t get a job based on familiarity (the New Jersey Devils already brought him back once to limited results), he’ll likely make the most sense as a cheap veteran on a contender. Arnott has a solid chance of landing with someone if he’s willing to accept another one-year deal – probably for quite a bit less cash.

More UFA spotlights

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Zach Parise

Jaromir Jagr

Jason Garrison

Jiri Hudler

Justin Schultz

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Dennis Wideman

P. A. Parenteau

Contract talks between Kelly, Bruins hit “stalemate”

Chris Kelly, Dennis Wideman
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According to ESPN Boston’s Jimmy Murphy, discussions for a new deal between Chris Kelly and the Bruins aren’t going especially well.

Murphy classified the situation as a “stalemate” upon speaking with Kelly’s agent, Pat Morris, who is waiting for word from Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.

“We haven’t heard from Peter yet so we’re just waiting for his call and we’ll hopefully get the dialogue going,” Morris told ESPN. “Chris obviously has a warm spot in his heart for Boston since he won the Cup here and loves this team, so he has made it clear he’d like to stay, but we’re also going to have to keep our options open the closer we get to July 1.”

Kelly, 31, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after spending the last year and a half in Boston, notching a career-best 20 goals and 39 points in 2011-12.

Should he go to market, Kelly will likely receive plenty of attention. The free agent crop is bereft of centers — Jarret Stoll, Olli Jokinen and Jason Arnott headline the UFA list — and Kelly has proven to be a solid, reliable two-way center in Boston, finishing fourth in the NHL this season with a plus-33 rating.

That said, Kelly has made it clear he wants to stay put.

“I’ve made it clear I like it here and I’m not just telling you that,” he told reporters during his end-of-year media availability. “I really do like it here. Some guys just say that, but everything about Boston has been a pleasant surprise. From the team, the coaching staff, the management all the way down to the city.

“I didn’t know anything about the city after coming here last year, but my wife and I — and my family — have really grown to love it here.”