Eastern Conference: Sabres starting over

Eastern Conference: Sabres starting over
August 28, 2013, 11:30 am
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BUFFALO SABRES

2012-13: 21-21-6, 48 points

Where they finished: 5th in the Northeast; 11th in the East; 23rd in the NHL

Coach: Ron Rolston (2nd season)

Key additions: D Henrik Tallinder, D Jamie McBain

Key subtractions: LW Nathan Gerbe, D Andrej Sekera, D Adam Pardy

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Thomas Vanek – Cody Hodgson – Drew Stafford

Ville Leino – Tyler Ennis – Brian Flynn

Marcus Foligno– Luke Adam – Patrick Kaleta

Steve Ott – Mikhail  Grigorenko - RW Joel Armia

Defense

Christian Ehrhoff – Tyler Myers

Henrik Tallinder – Jamie McBain

Mike Weber – Mark Pysyk

Goaltenders

Ryan Miller – Jhonas Enroth

Our take: Fans might have to cover their eyes in Buffalo this season. Last year general manager Darcy Regier executed a complete housecleaning, firing coach Lindy Ruff and trading away forward Jason Pominville and defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr for prospects and picks.  

That means leftovers Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller are going to need to be miracle workers if the Sabres hope to find their way out of the forest and into the playoffs.

Vanek is coming off a solid 20-goal season last year, but he’ll need help from Ville Leino, Drew Stafford and Cody Hodgson in the offensive department. The Sabres acquired some depth on the blue line with Henrik Tallinder and Jamie McBain but both a step below blue liners Jordan Leopold and Andrej Sekera.

That doesn’t leave much hope for Miller, who at 33 is coming off the worst statistical season of his career and may have a difficult time convincing Team USA he should be the starting goalie in the 2014 Olympics, especially with the team in front of him.

Offseason Grade: D

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14: No.