Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's Next 2011: Buffalo Sabres

While it looked like the they had things in hand and were going to do it for not only a new owner, but for a fallen legend, the Sabres couldn't get the job done and will have to await a full season with the new owner to see if they can actually have a playoff change of fortune.

The story of the team was Ryan Miller, per the usual-- but more over, the play late in the season by back-up Jhonas Enroth, which is a welcome sign. While the goaltending controversy won't be for another couple of year, the play of Enroth will actually give the Sabres some options when it comes to rest Miller and not wear him down as the season rolls forward. Not to say that it was the lack of endurance that sealed Miller's fate, but he hasn't really had a solid back-up in many years and probably has been burning out from the years of overuse.

Offensively, the Sabres were the fourth highest in the East; which you would never know as it is almost scoring by committee. Thomas Vanek and Brad Boyes were 30-goal scorers, while both Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville were 20-goal getters. In all, 12 of the Sabres were in double-digits in goals, which bodes well for the depth of scoring they could possess, especially considering Derek Roy was out most of the season due to his freak leg injury. Should Roy come back as good as he left off, he'll make the Sabres that much more offensively dangerous.

Tyler Myers had a bit of a sophomore slump, but he played well in the new calendar year to try and save a year that could have been lost. Yet, the rest of the defense had plenty of guys you don't often equate to solid performer-- because many don't know their name. Andrej Sekera had a solid bounce-back season with 29 points and a +11 rating, while Steve Montador continued to be consistent on the blue line with a +16 rating. The next big thing could be Mike Weber, who put a good effort when he was in the line-up and was eased into a regular role, thanks to injuries and what-not. If the youngsters continue to mature consistently, then they should round-out the rest of the team and give the Sabres that final piece for a dominant team.

Luckily, the Sabres will have a decent amount of cap-space even after they re-sign their RFAs and with new owner Terry Pegula willing to spend money to put together a winner; odds are they will be big players on the market this summer, which should bring a lot of promise to the Sabres fateful. Things are looking up in Buffalo, but at least for this season-- it's without a Cup championship.

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