I previously skipped over the Sabres, so here they are.
Based on Matthew Pouliot’s series on Circling the Bases, I have decided restore the rosters for every NHL team. Like Pouliot, I have established some ground rules for my selections.
- Each team contains players they originally drafted or signed before any other NHL team. This includes players drafted and not signed, as well as European free agents coming over at an older age.
- I have chosen to leave retired players off the list, and lean toward players in the AHL rather than those deported (KHL, SEL, DEL, etc.).
Essentially I am choosing the best available players for a team to succeed in the current NHL season. All 30 teams will be covered, with grades assigned to forwards, defense and goaltending. After all 30 articles are written, they will be ranked in order. This series’ intent is to reward or shame NHL scouts.
The Sabres rely heavily on their drafting and development of young players in order to keep their payroll down. Due to their restrictions monetarily, the team has succeeded in producing a vast amount of NHL regulars as well as some well regarded players. Overall, there really is no weaknesses to their lineup from the net on out. A mostly young core, this team greatly resembles the team currently constructed but with more depth and much improved blueline.
The lineup for the Buffalo Sabres is as follows.
The forward core consists of a good mix of young players. As these players continue to develop, the team will only get better and better much like the current roster.
Thomas Vanek – Derek Roy – Jason Pominville
Clarke MacArthur – Tyler Ennis / Nathan Gerbe / Tim Kennedy – Drew Stafford
Daniel Paille – Paul Gaustad – Maxim Afinogenov
Ales Kotalik – Wayne Primeau – Patrick Kaleta
Extra(s): Brad May, Andrew Peters, Mike Zigomanis, Mark Mancari
The only glaring hole is the second line center. I chose to let three highly touted prospects fight it out for a spot. Those three smallish centers are a large part of the future in Buffalo therefore we can see why some other players like Afinogenov and Paille are no longer with the organization. Although their forward core may appear to be impressive, and by all means it is, in no way does it compare to the plethora of NHL defensemen the team drafted and developed.
The Sabres probably have the best defensive core in the league. Although they drafted so many good defensemen, it is mainly the bottom of the depth chart that are still with the team.
Brian Campbell – Dennis Widemann
Tyler Myers – Keith Ballard
Cory Sarich – Henrik Tallinder
Extra(s): Nathan Paetsch, Jay McKee, Chris Butler, Andrej Sekera, Jan Hejda
Every defenseman listed is a capable NHL defender. One would be hard pressed to find a better top four around the league. It is just unfortunate that three out of the top four are out of the organization. Sadly Wideman elected free agency before playing a single game for the team while Ballard yielded Steve Reinprecht ironically a solid 2nd line center. Traded for Steve Bernier and a first round pick (Ennis), Campbell moved to San Jose to play with his close friend Joe Thornton. An honestly decent trade, one which helped the Sabres even more in the long run.
The Sabres produced perhaps the best goaltender in all of hockey. In fact, the situation with this team closely resembles the same roster as the team’s post-lockout team.
Extra: Jonas Enroth
As of this writing, Miller leads all goalies with a 1.83 GAA, .939 SV% and four shutouts through 26 games. He clearly is the best tender to represent team USA in the Olympics and a strong contender for the Vezina. Biron is still the same goalie who led the Flyers to the ECF two years ago. He can string together an impressive string of wins regardless of his playing situation as shown in the past.
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