Thought the Buffalo Sabres were going to be bad this year? Just hold on a minute. The Sabres finished the preseason with a 4-2-1 record. They scored 21 goals and only allowed 16. Some teams they had better records than include the Detroit Red Wings (3-5) Philadelphia Flyers (1-5-1) and the New York Rangers (1-5).
With the 23-man roster due soon, what will the Sabres roster look like? At goaltender, Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth will backstop the Sabres this year. Enroth’s only win was a shutout and he did have a 1.95 G.A.A. Ryan Miller will look to play extremely well this year as he is in the last year of his contract. Will he stay in Buffalo or test the free-agency market? Only time will tell.
At defense, Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Mark Pysyk and Henrik Tallinder are solidified. Mike Weber, Alexander Sulzer, Jamie McBain and Rasmus Ristolainen are looking to fill in spots 5 and 6. Ristolainen, the 18 yr-old from Finland had really impressed this pre-season. He was also the Sabres top pick this year, going 8th overall. The key will be Tyler Myers; can he bounce back to his Calder Trophy form? If he can, the Sabres will be much improved.
The Sabres have a ton of forwards. They also have some injuries there too. Corey Tropp who has a broken jaw and Joel Armia, broken hand will be out for several weeks. Marcus Foligno has an upper-body injury but should be back in time for the first few games.
Thomas Vanek had a really good season last year. Can he keep the pace up? Vanek has done a better job with his defensive game and has become a 2-way player. I’m thinking at least 30 goals and 70 points. Zemgus Girgensons has impressed as well this preseason. The 14th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft had 3 goals and an assist to go along with a +5 rating. He could be a breakout star for the Sabres.
Cody Hodgson, Steve Ott, Tyler Ennis, Ville Leino and Drew Stafford round out the top 6. Stafford needs to have a productive season as he has been a disappointment the last few years. John Scott will play the enforcer role again and get 4 minutes a game. Cody McCormick and Patrick Kaleta will also provide some toughness for the Sabres.
The Sabres have the potential to be a playoff team. With a new division and a full 82 game season, it will be interesting to see what they can do.