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04 October 2007

Sabres Season Preview

It's time for a new season and here is a brief preview of the roster the Sabres will take into the new season and my predictions for the 2007-2008 season.

Goaltenders:

Sabres:
Ryan Miller
Jocelyn Thibault

On the Farm:
Adam Dennis

No matter how you feel about the Sabres off-season losses. The hope for this campaign all begins and ends right here, with Ryan Miller. This team is undoubtedly Miller's now. He is the leader and seems poised for greatness and I fully expect him to fulfill that promise. I am looking for a Vezina-winning possible MVP season out of Ryan.

Thibault was shaky in the pre-season, but I am not overly concerned with that. I think he will prove to be a solid addition to the club and hold his own. Adam Dennis was hot and cold in Rochester. an unorthodox goalie he has some ability but i doubt he will amount to more than a solid backup at the NHL level. If the Sabres run into injuries they will have to pursue the trade route to fill the hole.

Defense:
Henrik Tallinder
Toni Lydman
Brian Campbell
Jaro Spacek
Dmitri Kalinin
Nathan Paetsch

On the farm:
Andrei Sekera
Mike Funk
Marc-Andre Gragnani
Mike Card

The Sabres bring back an extremely solid defensive corps. The loss of Teppo Numminen to heart surgery is a blow, but it does open a roster spot for Nathan Paetsch who was very good in extensive duty last year. Look to see lots of ice time for super shutdown tandem Lydman and Tallinder. Tallinder could be a darkhorse Norris Trophy candidate if he can avoid the big injury. Brian Campbell is in a contract year and is coming off an all-star campaign. I expect big things from him as well as a better showing on the power play. Dmitri Kalinin and Jaro Spacek struggled at times last year, but I feel that the loss of Numminen may actually help them as it will put them in more positions that suite their skills. I think Spacek will actually jump into Numminens role and be very sucessful. Kalinin will have a relatively short leash this year and may find his way off the roster if he struggles again. it appears Andrei Sekera will easily be the first call up and I would not be surprised if he was a regular by mid-season.

Funk, Gragnani, Card and Mike Weber lead an good group off youngsters that could make an impact in years to come. Funk has added significant muscle and looked far more comfortable in camp this year than last. Gragnani is an impressive talent and could earn a surprise call-up especially if the Sabres struggle offensively from the back end.

Forwards:

Max Afinigenov, Jason Pominville, Ales Kotalik, Andrew Peters
Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Paul Gaustad, Clarke Macarthur
Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht, Adam Mair, Dan Paille, Mike Ryan

On The Farm:

Marek Zagrapan, Mark Mancari, Dylan Hunter, Pat Kaleta

No doubt about it, the Sabres took some serious hits with the losses of Danny Briere, Chris Drury and Danius Zubrus in the off-season. Fortunately, the Sabres might have been the one team that could afford to absorb those types off losses. Tim Connolly appears healthy and poised to make a big impact and Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek justified their new contracts with monster contracts. The only truly new faces in the lineup this season appear to be gritty winger Dan Paille, mike Ryan and Clarke Macarthur. This team should have little trouble scoring. The key will be whether or not the youngsters can step into the roles filled by Drury and Briere.

Marek Zagrapan and Pat Kaleta seem to be the only real forwards likely to see significant time in Buffalo this year. The overall depth in terms of NHL ready players took a hit with the losses, but the Sabres prospect pool is far from shallow.

Management:

All members of the coaching and management staff return so that is of some comfort. I fully expect Lindy Ruff to be a candidate for coach of the year. Darcy Regier has alot of flexibility this season and has the team poised to be able to swing a big deal if a player to their liking comes available.

Predicition: I will be in the firm minority here, but I believe the Sabres have all the tools for another cup run. I predict first in the Notheast and second overall behind Pittsburgh in the Conference. I see the Sabres playing San Jose for the cup and bringing Buffalo home its first Stanley Cup.

2 fanatics have replied:

Mike Thompson said...

Didn't the Sabres send MacArther down? I figured he was a lock to make the squad. Any idea why?

The Ghost said...

THey said it was to get him consistent ice time. It appears he will play when they don't use Peters. Mike Ryan will start regularly, which I think is a mistake. It might be, though, an indication that Ruff is really going to reign them in. Ryan fits the checking role a bit better than Macarthur.

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