Skip to content

With Ott gone, who will be Buffalo’s next captain?

Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

Tyler Ennis Getty Images

Since the start of 2013, three different players have worn the ‘C’ in Buffalo — Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott — and they have all been traded. That’s created something of a leadership vacuum for the Sabres going into the 2014-15 campaign.

Fortunately, there have some candidates to fill that void.

Perhaps the most obvious player is Brian Gionta, who inked a three-year, $12.75 million contract with Buffalo over the summer. The 35-year-old doesn’t have experience within the Sabres’ organization, but he has a strong resume after serving as the Montreal Canadiens’ captain and winning the Stanley Cup.

He could prove to be a mentor for the young Sabres and aide them in their rebuilding efforts. After his tenure with Buffalo ends, the team could then hand the captaincy to one of the young forwards that’s established himself and symbolically complete the transitional period at that time.

The Sabres might also opt to go with a younger option to put the focus more squarely on their future. Tyler Ennis, for example, is an interesting choice. He’s just 24 years old (25 in October), but already has 267 NHL games under his belt. On top of that, he’s starting a five-year, $23 million contract this season, so he’s someone that will be around for the rest of Buffalo’s rebuild and then still be young enough to lead them once the Sabres are on the other side of it.

Ennis plans to learn from Gionta and the other veterans on the team, but he also recognizes that at this point he should take on more responsibilities in the locker room.

“It’s time for us (Ennis and Tyler Myers) to take over now,” Ennis said, per team’s website. “It’s a good balance of older guys, middle guys ready to take over and lot of great young kids coming up.”

Another option is for the team to pass on naming a captain this season. As a rookie, Sam Reinhart isn’t expected to take on that role, but the 18-year-old is, as Flames president Brian Burke put it, an “Einstein on the ice” and might be a serious candidate in a year or two if everything goes right. On top of that, if Buffalo has a bad season, it could end up drafting a potential superstar in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

Would it make sense for the Sabres to leave the position vacant for now in the hopes that one of their promising young players will claim it? That’s up to head coach Ted Nolan, but he certainly has a few interesting paths he could take.

Latest Posts
  1. Arbitrator awards Marcus Johansson $3.75M contract

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    That’s close to the middle between his and Washington’s requests.

  2. Maloney: RFA Domingue will play in Europe

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Louis Domingue Getty Images

    The decision surprised Arizona’s general manager.

  3. Siegenthaler signs entry-level contract with Caps

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT

    Jonas Siegenthaler Getty Images

    The defenseman spent the 2014-15 campaign in the Swiss League.

  4. One month later, Mike Richards’ future remains murky

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    There is a key deadline approaching though.

  5. Subban working out with former Olympian Ben Johnson

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    P.K. Subban Getty Images

    Johnson won a gold medal in 1988, but it was taken away because of a positive steroids test.

  6. Quebecor seeks partners in Quebec City bid

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Ottawa Senators Getty Images

    There’s a $500 million expansion fee to consider.

  7. How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos?

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Carolina Hurricanes v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Because once Voracek’s eight-year contract kicks in, they’ll be part of that list.

  8. Report: Further coaching hires expected for Sharks

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT

    Peter DeBoer Getty Images

    Former NHL stars are among the list of likely candidates.

  9. Habs’ Galchenyuk inks two-year extension

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT

    Alex Galchenyuk Getty Images

    The deal is reportedly worth $5.6 million.

  10. Flames prospect Kylington cleared to play in North America

    Jul 30, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    Oliver Kylington Getty Images

    At one point he was listed as the top European skater in the 2015 draft.

  11. Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:52 PM EDT

    Jakub Voracek Getty Images

    The Flyers also have forwards Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier locked up.

  12. Zubrus clears waivers, is ‘surprised’ by buyout

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:22 PM EDT

    Dainius Zubrus Getty Images

    The 37-year-old still wants to continue his career.

  13. Coyotes want long-term deal with Glendale

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    PNI Coyotes Deal 0611 PNI Coyotes Deal 0611

    “Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (2512)
  2. L. Couture (1699)
  3. J. Toews (1677)
  4. G. Bettman (1562)
  5. A. Chiasson (1482)
  1. A. Larsson (1376)
  2. B. Gionta (1323)
  3. C. Wilson (1304)
  4. B. Holtby (1236)
  5. M. Johansson (1208)