The Buffalo Sabres have not been great the last few seasons. They fired long-time and fan-favorite coach Lindy Ruff. The team brought in Ron Rolston who failed miserably and now with Ted Nolan as the current coach, the question is can he succeed? Here are some predictions for the upcoming season:
Jhonas Enroth and Michel Neuvirth will come into training camp as 1a and 1b. I think Neuvirth is the slight favorite and is a slightly better goalie. However, Enroth has been in the system for a few years so the Sabres might feel loyal to start the season with Enroth between the pipes. I am looking at a 2.80 or greater G.A.A.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Tyler Myers is going to get closer to his Calder Trophy rookie season numbers. I think the biggest thing will be that Myers is going to get some more confidence in his game. Part of the Sabres success will hinge on how well Myers does as he has the potential to be a stalwart defensemen who can attribute offensively.
The Sabres have some young defensemen who will continue to develop into solid players. Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov will be very good; they just need to keep playing together.
Just where are the goals going to come from this year? Matt Moulson is back with the team and has the potential to have a 30 goal season with the Sabres. Moulson has scored 30 or more goals three times in his career so far.
Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis are essentially the same player offensively. Last season, they had the nearly the same stats, (20 and 21 goals respectively). Both players can score 25 or more goals in a season but it’s a matter of will they find that scoring groove?
Zemgus Girgensons will quickly become a fan favorite in Buffalo. He brings a blue-collar work ethic to the rink everyday and is not afraid to throw his body around.
Drew Stafford is interesting because he has scored 20 or more goals three times in his career. However, he has not done so since the 2011-2012 season. I am going to say he will score just under 20 goals this year.
Mikhail Grigorenko was drafted to score goals and be a big-time forward. He has disappointed thus far. In the minors, he was one of the best players on the ice. In his brief time in the NHL, he has 3 goals in 43 games. This season, I am hoping he matures and finds a way to put up 20 goals.
Sam Reinhart will be interesting. He will start the year with the Sabres. If he struggles, he will be sent down to the minors. If he flourishes, I see him on the second line.
The Sabres will have a rough time this year as they are still in transition. I am looking at them to finish toward the bottom of the league like last season and aim for a high draft pick in the first round.