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Offseason Report: Buffalo Sabres

Aug 2, 2012, 10:08 AM EST

Cody Hodgson, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers AP

From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

39-32-11, 89 points. Third in Northeast Division, ninth in Eastern Conference.

Additions

Steve Ott (via trade), Kevin Porter, John Scott, Adam Pardy (via trade)

Departures

Derek Roy (traded to Dallas), Jochen Hecht (not re-signed), Brad Boyes (signed with Islanders)

2012 Draft

12th overall — Mikhail Grigorenko (F – Quebec Remparts – QMJHL)

14th overall — Zemgus Girgensons (F – Dubuque – USHL)

Looking back

A season that had the highest of high hopes after an assortment of big moves got off to a thud of a start, burying the Sabres early on. High-paid guys like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff didn’t quite have the impact Buffalo hoped for and Ryan Miller struggled with both net-crashing Bruins and stopping pucks. They rallied hard late in the season and came close to stealing a playoff spot but fell short by three points.

Looking forward

Swapping out Derek Roy for Steve Ott while adding tough guy John Scott certainly helps add a lot of sandpaper and physicality to a Sabres roster that needed it. Patrick Kaleta‘s new three-year deal shows that they’re still in the business of irritating opponents as well. What will ultimately decide the Sabres’ hopes though is consistency. Sounds easy, right? It hasn’t been for Buffalo, especially last season.

Miller had his ups and downs, so did the defense in front of him. The offense would show flashes of brilliance with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville having great seasons, but even they weren’t immune. Another big season from (as yet unsigned RFA) Tyler Ennis, having Ott show he’s more than an abrasive forward and kids like Cody Hodgson and Luke Adam growing up a little, Buffalo could be right back in the postseason. Perhaps Grigorenko can be the secret weapon as a first-year player.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Sabres’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

  1. sjsharks66 - Aug 2, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I don’t see the new additions helping them to a cup or far in the playoffs. I’m not “hating” on them but let’s be serious. Ott will be kicked out of every game like he was in Dallas and Scott will only play when miller gets hit again. Will the fans be more entertained from Ott being a pest and Scott pounding on guys faces, of course!

    I could be completely wrong, hockey is so unpredictable.

    • mattryannolan - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Ott kicked out of every game? Are sure about that? That’s a pretty bold statement from a guy who sounds like he doesn’t know much.

  2. elemeno89 - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    i fully believe that this team will play better next season. and i stand 100% behind ruff and regier.

    • blakechandler - Aug 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      I’m a Hawks fan but you guys have my support. A lot of young talent there.

  3. gerbe42 - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Buffalo did the addition by subtraction this year, they went on the big run last year when Roy was out with an injury. I’ve heard a bunch of stuff that Roy wasn’t liked in the locker room or by coaching staff. They have been trying to get rid of him since last year and adding Ott and Scott adds the toughness and attitude they haven’t had since Chris Drury left. They are a much better team then they played last year and will prove it this year. I think they will challenge for division title this year and make playoffs at very least. I do wish they had traded for J. Stall or were able to pick up Doan, B. Ryan would be nice but I think the asking price is too high. So I’m happy to go into season as it stands now! Let’s Face it would would of picked LA to win the Cup at the beginning of last season? I think it’s more about team chemistry then big name players.

    • terrypegula - Aug 2, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      1. You’re thinking of 2 years ago. Roy played 80 games last year, and was a big part of their season’s turn around.
      2. Neither Ott nor Scott are ANYTHING like Drury.
      3. I hate to bust your bubble, but LA was picked by MANY to be a cup contender before the season started last year.
      4. Every single stanley cup winner since the lockout has had an elite “big name” player.
      Example:
      Carolina – Staal
      Anaheim – Pronger, Niedermayer, Perry, Getzlaf
      Detroit – Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk
      Pittsburgh – Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Staal
      Chicago – Toews, Kane, Keith, Hossa
      Boston – Chara (some would say Bergeron or Lucic, but I’m not in that boat)
      LA – Kopitar, Doughty

      Are you “Bulldog” from WGR?

  4. sjsharks66 - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    @matt
    Are you trying to tell me that Ott does not receive a massive amount of game misconducts? All 6 games against the sharks this year Ott was kicked out. I am pretty sure he received more playing other teams also.

    The fact that you think Ott can carry the sabers to a final might show that you are the one that does not know anything.

    Ott is good at hockey but racking up 156PIM in 76 games is not going to help the sabers. Sorry to bury your bubble.

    • theawesomersfranchise - Aug 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Not every game, nearly though

  5. pithockey - Aug 2, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    @Matt he was 6th in penalty minutes…. Scott hartnell was only 11th so that’s saying something

  6. hitem396 - Aug 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    dont agree. sabres are good team but not sure they’re playoff contender unless they add a couple of scorer not just adding big guy.

    BUT miller is one of best goalies AND esp. the head coach – R.P so well knows about this team, which can make whole story change

  7. travishenryskid - Aug 2, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    If Ennis stays healthy he will be the breakout player of the year. Top 5 scorer in the NHL. Foligno-Ennis-Stafford is the biggest reason to be excited about this team next year.

    • dirte42 - Aug 2, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Foligno-Ennis-Stafford SHOULD be the top line this year, but who knows….

      • terrypegula - Aug 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Not to be a debbie downer, but I think we may be getting a little carried away with this line. I know they put together a heck of a stretch, but it was only 14 games, and there are plenty of reasons to think they wont keep up the same production. We also forget that Lindy is a notorious line switcher, so we’ll see how long it takes for him to scrap it. Obviously I think they have the ability to be productive, but Foligno is very young, and Stafford is very streaky, so let’s not crown them the next french connection just yet. Vanek and Pommer will be the first line wingers, and we will see in October who the pivot is.

  8. rabidbillsfan - Aug 2, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    @sjs

    A west coast fan should not be commenting on the prospects of an east coast team. Ott fills the hole left by Goose, even if he doesn’t play center. If Adam can bounce back, or Girgs can step in as a viable center, then this team is easily a Top-5 east team, Ehrhoff and Sulzer came on late last season to be our best defensive pair, and Ehrhoff really came on offensively.Myers should bounce back if he stays healthy, and that leaves us with Regehr, Leopold, Weber, and McNabb for 3 spots. Not a bad place to be defensively. This is Millers first full offseason off since the Olympics, this should be a good thing. Ott won’t be asked to be the primary pest like he was in Dallas. We have Gerbe and Kaleta here, so he shouldn’t have to carry the load. I hate how every Sabre fan thinks that we need 12 forwards who score 20 goals. The Sabres have always had a hot line. It shows the depth of the team. If we didn’t have to constantly call up AHL’ers last season, ecspecially on offense, we would have made the Playoffs, and could have made a deep run. I won’t even go into the SJ Sharks, and thats because I don’t know enough about them, so take some of my advice, and stick to your own team, because you obviously don’t know mine.

  9. rabidbillsfan - Aug 2, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    @terry

    Sorry, but Roy was part of the turnaround? Then why did you trade him???? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, yes, the recent winners have had “Big Name Players”, but look at the last 2. Spectacular goaltending is what got those 2 teams Lord Stanley. Miller is a better goaltender than Thomas, and he can be just as good as Quick was during their run. I’d say we have some of the best depth across the board in the East, excpet maybe the NYR. You’re right, Scott and Ott are nothing like Drury, and thats because Drury was a scorer not a tough guy. Again, another Sabre fan making the rest of us look bad.

    • terrypegula - Aug 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      Whoa, don’t get all crazy and paint me as a Roy lover or anything. I personally can’t stand the guy, but I can’t read a post talking about his injury last year being why they made their push when he wasn’t even injured. And yes, he was a big part of their push for the playoffs. Who scored in overtime against Toronto to keep their playoff hopes alive?? I’d say that’s playing a part.

      Of course you have to have good goaltending, but this has nothing to do with my point about having elite players, so I’m not sure what you’re arguing about.

      And yes they are nothing like Drury because they are tough guys which was my point. Once again, I have no idea what the argument is.

      Why is it that trying to be factual makes the rest of you look bad?? I’m pretty sure saying things that aren’t true is what makes you look bad.

  10. thedavesiknowiknow - Aug 2, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    It’s August, so they’re pretty much going into the season with this lineup, and with Cody Hodgson and Cody McCormick at center. Sure, there’s Ennis (still yet to actually sign): who’s a center like Boyes, Hecht, Ott, and Leino are centers. Foligno made Ennis a center by default. It’s reasonable to expect Grigorenko and/or Girgensons to get 9 games in October simply due to lack of organizational depth at center.

    I’m a Sabres fan, but I’m capable of objectivity. Regier had the offseason to make up for the loss of Gaustad at center, he instead traded another (in Roy) away without recouping one. I’m convinced he’s scratching his head wondering why Drew Stafford and a 2nd rd. pick won’t get him Evgeni Malkin. Gun-shy, and incapable of pulling off a “blockbuster” even when the owner promises “multiple” cups. Passive G.M.’s don’t work in hockey, and Regier is the prototypical passive G.M.

    Barring a big move prior to camp opening, I’d be less surprised if TOR, CAR, MTL, NYI got in and left my guys finishing 9th as it stands right now.

    • travishenryskid - Aug 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      Foligno made Ennis a center lol

      • thedavesiknowiknow - Aug 3, 2012 at 12:06 AM

        Maybe that came out wrong. Foligno played with so much energy it didn’t matter who was at center, they were going to mesh and pick up points. Just like Stafford looked relevant again because of Foligno.

      • travishenryskid - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:40 AM

        No, it came out right, but you’re insane. Foligno and Stafford looked great because of Ennis. Foligno’s energy was great, but don’t fool yourself, Ennis was the key to that line.

  11. gerbe42 - Aug 3, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    1- I’m not the Bulldog on wgr, lol, I do listen to them(Shopp & Bulldog) sometimes.

    2- I’m not saying Ott or Scott are the same skill wise as Drury but they have the same attitude, which has been sorely missed since Drury left.

    3- Also what I meant was I didn’t think the Sabres needed to add a big name player to be a playoff contender. They have enough skilled players to make it work, Vanek, Pominville, Stafford, Ehrhoff, Myers and Miller plus alot of younger guys that could make a big difference.

    4- I’ve always been A Derek Roy fan but the last year just seemed his heart wasn’t with them team and it’s no secret that him and Lindy didn’t get along and I think that had big effect on team because it was last year when they started the big winning streak that Roy was out injured. The Sabres were the most winning team from Feb till Apr and barely missed the playoffs. Pretty good since they were one of the worst teams in the league before that and were at the bottom of the eastern conf.

    • gerbe42 - Aug 3, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      I guess trying to make the point that Roy is a good player but needed to move on and glad we got guys who really want to be here. Plus the players we got are heart guys(team guys) and add some toughness we needed.
      Also that just because you make a big splash with free agents that it will work, look at last year for the Sabres. big moves but it fell apart. I think alot of people are worried that the Sabres will be bad because they didn’t land a big free agent this year but I think they will be fine. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see Doan here and think he would be a great leader for this team but I don’t think it’s make or break for the team.
      I like the team as it stands good mix of veterans and some good young players, I think there will be a trade before training camp. We are overloaded on D and we can still use another center, I like the 2 first round picks and believe one if not both will be on the Sabres roster before the end of the year. I think they will have a few months down in minors then move up.

      • terrypegula - Aug 3, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        I agree. As I said, I’m not a roy fan. His departure was long overdue.

        I never said anything about making a splash in free agency, so don’t skew my words. There is a big difference between saying that we need an elite skater, and saying that we need to make a big splash in free agency. Leino was a splash (or should I say belly flop?) but he is nothing close to an elite player along with many many other UFAs that are paid elite money in desperation. Now, if there is an elite guy in UFA, then yes I am all for a big splash, but the point is that we need to get that player whether its through the draft, free agency, or trade, it doesn’t matter. Take a look at a list of teams in the league that do not have an elite skater (understand that I said skater which does not include goalies)

        Coyotes
        Islanders
        Jets
        Panthers
        Avalanche
        Blue Jackets
        Leafs
        Oilers ? (I question this because they have young guys that are expected to be elite but have not proven it)
        Canadiens
        Flames ? (I included the Flames because I’m not sure that Iginla is elite anymore)
        Sabres

        Now, how can you look at that list and not think elite players are important? I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that these teams are never really “contenders”. The Coyotes and Sabres are the only two on the list that are ever even a thought in the “contender” discussion, but we all know how that goes.

        Obviously anything is possible, but you can’t run a team with that philosophy. We have a goaltender, now we need an elite skater(s). There is always a chance we drafted that player, but once again, you can’t sit around and hope, you have to do everything in your power to build a cup team (even if it means giving up more than your getting) which was their creed at the start of the Pegula Era.

        And finally…. Everyone needs to stop this ignorant idea that if you question the Sabres, or have anything less than positive things to say about them that you either aren’t a fan, or are a bad fan. If you want to be a homer, that’s fine, but I choose to be objective. It is possible, trust me.

  12. sjsharks66 - Aug 3, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    @bills

    If you actually read my comment you would see I did not talk about anyone else on the team except the 2 new additions Ott and Scott. Who were west coast players. You’re correct I do not know much about the sabers. However I’ve seen Ott and Scott play quiet a bit. So I will stick to my team. In the west where 2 of your new players came from.

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