During the off season, the Sabres really did basically nothing. Out are Hank Tallinder, Toni Lydman, and Tim Kennedy. I thought people in Buffalo were going to kill Darcy for buying out Kennedy. Apparently he was God's gift to Earth & the next Gretzky, I guess I don't see it. In come veterans Jordan Leopold, Shaone Morrisonn, and Rob Neidermayer. In my opinion, upgrades across the board. Granted, they got a little older, but this team was too young anyways. Guess what?! They actually have a player who has won a Cup and knows what he is doing! Remember the last time that was true (hint, Chris Drury). That alone should be exciting.
Nuts & Bolts: The forwards are pretty much the same, finally no more Adam Mair or Matt Ellis (sent to Portland). In come Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe, and Cody McCormick. Ennis has potential to score 30 goals a season for the next 10 years. I see him as a version of Danny Briere. Small, quick, great hands. All the things you look for in a man, right? Speaking of men, or lack there of, Drew Stafford needs to basically shape up or ship out. What a waste of a first round pick he has turned out to be. Can't score, can't play defense... sounds like Max Afinegenov. The Sabres still don't have a number 1 center, but depending on his play, Tim Connolly can fill this void. Him or Derek Roy, if Roy decides to grow up. Vanek is Vanek, Hecht and Mike Grier will be your solid defensive forwards with 30 goals between them. My wildcard this year (besides Ennis) is Pat Kaleta. This guy is the new Sean Avery with a mix of Rob Ray. No, he won't fight, or at least not that often, but he is hated by everyone outside of Buffalo. Best part, he scored 10 goals last year in 50 or 60 games. I know that is one thing he has been working on since he became a regular, but it should be interesting to see if he can outscore the likes of Drew Stafford, Paul Gaustad, or Mike Grier this season. I think it's possible.
The defense, the weak link, improved this summer. Morrisonn is a better verison of Tallinder and will be that stay at home defenseman that will let Tyler Myers go out and destroy the NHL. Jordan Leopold is extremely underrated, however the only thing that scares me is his injury history. Look for Craig Rivet to come back strong this season following his shoulder surgery. I know he wasn't happy with his play this past season so he will be looking to do better this season (especially with the hints of this being his last season in the NHL). Beyond that, its a crapshoot. Steve Montador will play all 82 games for the Sabres, but the last spot will be up for grabs between Chris Butler, Mike Weber, and Andrej Sekera. Gut feeling is one of these guys will be traded during the season.
Ryan Miller is still the best goalie in the NHL and that is really all I have to say to make my point here. Oh, Patrick Lalime is backing up again.
My Prediction: I think the Sabres will win the Northeast again. Although Boston improved a ton in the offseason, so they are the only ones who really scare me. Toronto is trying, Ottawa isn't, and Montreal is still there, but with no goalie. At the very least, the Sabres will be in the playoffs for the second straight season, and everyone knows that anything can happen then (example, Boston, Montreal, & Philly). Sabres got new uniforms this season (again, 5th year in a row) that now make them the best dressed in the NHL.
As always LETS GO BUFFALO!