This season the Buffalo Sabres will look to some younger players to step in and fill some important roles. This includes but is not limited too, what should be an increase in playing time for Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy. The Sabres will look to some younger guys to step in and fill the void left by the free agent departure of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. Drew Stafford immediately comes to mind as a guy who will be counted on heavily. Last season Stafford put up good numbers in a short amount of time with the Sabres. It should be an interesting training camp watching Michael Ryan, Daniel Paille, Marek Zagrapan, Clarke MacArthur and Patrick Kaleta fight for what should be presumably two spots and watching Nathan Paetsch and Andrej Sekera fight for a spot.
I expect to see all of the mentioned players in the Sabres lineup at some point this season but who will make the roster out of camp. Michael Ryan and Daniel Paille will be given every opportunity to make this roster and MacArthur and Zagrapan will have to beat them out. The Sabres are in a position that both Ryan and Paille would have to clear waivers while Zagrapan and MacArthur can both be sent down to Rochester without waivers. I don’t expect Lindy Ruff to hand them the job however they will have to earn it, history tells us that Lindy is not afraid to put players waivers.
I expect that both Paille and Ryan will make the roster and they will both contribute. Paille will be a role player who will be asked to bring physical play and strong defensive play as well while Ryan should be able to contribute a little bit offensively as well. Ryan scored just three goals and two assists in 19 games with the Sabres last season but was always around the net. He seemed to have a scoring chance in every game he played. In Rochester Ryan showed a scoring touch with 28 goals and 23 assists in 50 games. Don’t expec t those numbers out of him this year but it’s not unreasonable to think he could have 15-20 goals as a regular on the Sabres roster.
Clarke MacArthur and Marek Zagrapan will both be well served by at least one more season in Rochester. Both players are very talented offensive players but could use a little bit more seasoning. Macarthur has a better chance than Zagrapan to make the team this season based on his outstanding season in Rochester last year. Zagrapan struggled a little bit early last season before picking up his play in the second half of the season.
As far as defenseman are concerned Paetsch will be the seventh defenseman to start the season and Sekera will start in Rochester but both players will see a lot of time with the big club this season. As far as the Sabres are concerned the future is bright and the future is now.