Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EST
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.
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.
Mar 5, 2015, 11:02 PM EST
Brock Nelson scored the winner.
Mar 5, 2015, 10:23 PM EST
“That. Just. Happened!”
Mar 5, 2015, 10:11 PM EST
“It’s humbling there’s no question.”
Mar 5, 2015, 9:16 PM EST
Once a 30-goal scorer in the NHL.
Mar 5, 2015, 8:40 PM EST
Curtis McKenzie drops the gloves.
Mar 5, 2015, 7:13 PM EST
“At the same time, Mike will maintain his focus on doing all he can to help Nashville win its first-ever Stanley Cup.”
Mar 5, 2015, 6:47 PM EST
Won’t suit up when the Caps take on Minnesota.
Mar 5, 2015, 6:24 PM EST
That’s former minor-league player Jordan Hart.
Mar 5, 2015, 5:27 PM EST
Big forward who doesn’t mind dropping the gloves.
Mar 5, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
He recently called them the “best group I’ve had since ’09.”
Mar 5, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
Might get into coaching.
Mar 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Nashville’s won just two of its last eight.
Mar 5, 2015, 2:12 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 5, 2015, 2:05 PM EST
“We only have 19 games left and we have to be winning and getting points.”
Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EST
Mar 5, 2015, 1:20 PM EST
Calgary takes on Boston tonight at TD Garden.
Mar 5, 2015, 12:34 PM EST
Huge blow to their slim playoff chances.
Mar 5, 2015, 12:33 PM EST
Will take the pre-game skate to determine if he can play.
Mar 5, 2015, 12:18 PM EST
That’d be Sens goalie Andrew Hammond.
Mar 5, 2015, 12:11 PM EST
Following an incident against Washington on Mar. 1.
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