All That Has Transpired: Buffalo Sabres

We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.

Today, we take a look at the Buffalo Sabres.

By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)


Buffalo Sabres

2013-14 Season: 21-51-10  52 points – (8th Atlantic Division; 16th Eastern Conference)

Former Stanley Cup champion Brian Gionta signed a three-year deal with Buffalo, his hometown team, this offseason.

Former Stanley Cup champion Brian Gionta signed a three-year deal with Buffalo, his hometown team, this offseason. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Free Agents Signed:
D Andre Benoit (Colorado)
RW Zac Dalpe (Vancouver)
D Tyson Strachan (Washington)
D Andrej Meszaros (Boston)
RW Brian Gionta (Montreal)
RW Cody McCormick (Minnesota)
LW Matt Moulson (Minnesota)

Free Agents Lost:
RW Matt D’Agostini (Europe)
RW Jamie Tardif (Europe)
LW John Scott (San Jose)
RW Kevin Porter (Detroit)
LW Cory Conacher (New York Islanders)
D Christian Ehrhoff (Pittsburgh)
D Alexander Sulzer (Europe)

2015 conditional seventh-round draft pick to Winnipeg for LW Jordan Samuels-Thomas
2016 second-round draft pick to Montreal for D Josh Gorges

Promising Prospects:
C Sam Reinhart
D Nikita Zadorov
RW Hudson Fasching
RW Joel Armia
D Jake McCabe

The Buffalo Sabres were hard to watch last season. Not only for the Buffalo fans, but everyone involved in the organization. In a press conference in April, general manager Tim Murray said “A lot of nights, this team was hard to watch.” Murray is right. The Sabres were the worst team in the NHL last season by far. They only recorded 52 points and missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Obviously, this team is in the rebuilding phase and it began during the season last year. The team traded Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and Matt Moulson in order to stockpile young players and draft picks for the future.

The rebuilding of the roster did not end this offseason whatsoever. Buffalo bought out the contracts of Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff after both players failed to live up to expectations based on their large contracts. At the 2014 NHL Draft, the Sabres selected C Sam Reinhart second overall. Reinhart tallied 36 goals and 105 points in the WHL last season and could become a franchise center with the Sabres someday. In fact, he will have an opportunity to make the NHL squad this year, which should be fun to watch.

The Sabres were extremely busy once free agency started this offseason. They brought in Rochester native Brian Gionta, who signed a three-year deal worth $12.75 million. Next, the Sabres brought back Moulson and RW Cody McCormick after they traded them last year to Minnesota at the deadline. Moulson earned a five-year, $25 million contract after notching 23 goals and 51 points in 75 games with the Sabres, Wild and Islanders. Defensively, the Sabres needed to fill holes caused by the buyout of Ehrhoff, who logged a ton of minutes with Buffalo. Murray filled that void by trading for Montreal’s Josh Gorges and signing Andrej Meszaros to a one-year deal worth $4.125 million.

The Sabres appear to be a deeper team with these new acquisitions, but they still may be a couple years away from contending. Buffalo does have a ton of young and talented players in their organization such as Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen. There will be a ton of pressure on those guys when they all find themselves in the NHL due to their upside. At some point, all of these draft picks will be counted on to make an impact with Buffalo unless they are traded.

The veterans that were acquired this offseason will help the young players for Ted Nolan’s team in 2014-15. Gionta has won a Stanley Cup already and is a great leader while Meszaros and Gorges have some experience as NHL defensemen.

One of the big red flags with this team is their goaltending. Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth will compete for playing time this season now that Miller is gone. Neuvirth had some temporary success with the Washington Capitals, but was never able to keep the starting job there as he eventually lost it to Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby. Enroth, a Buffalo second-round pick in 2006, has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. Miller was the starting goaltender in Buffalo for a long time and it was difficult for Enroth to find playing time. This year is his big chance. He had a .911 save-percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average in 28 games last season.

As a whole, I like the direction Buffalo is headed. They seem to be on the right track, but results from this rebuild are still going to take some time. The Sabres will most likely be near the basement of the Eastern Conference once again, but they should have a better record than they did last year.

Projected Lineup:

Matt Moulson – Cody Hodgson – Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis- Sam Reinhart – Chris Stewart
Marcus Foligno – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta
Matt Ellis – Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell
Cody McCormick – Patrick Kaleta

Josh Gorges – Tyler Myers
Mike Weber – Rasmus Ristolainen
Andrej Meszaros – Mark Pysyk
Andre Benoit

Michal Neuvirth
Jhonas Enroth