The Sabres will have many more guys at camp this season because of the veterans that were signed to play for the Portland Pirates. Today we'll take a look at the forwards and who is expected to be on the opening day roster.
The Sabres didn't make too many changes in the off-season so the roster will look really similar to last season. The difference is they will be a year older and more experienced. There could be a couple of unexpected changes but it will be an evaluation process that will begin on Saturday.
- Derek Roy- Roy had a breakout season last year scoring 32 goals and 48 assists in 79 games played. Roy proved to be an adequate replacement for Danny Briere
- Jason Pominville- Pominville also had a breakout season because he proved that the success he had while on a line with Briere was not an accident. Pominville played his way into an expected huge contract.
- Thomas Vanek- Vanek scored 36 goals and 28 assists and yet people say he had a disappointing season.
- Jochen Hecht- Hecht scored over 20 goals for the first time in his career and proved to be an importnat leader for the team.
- Drew Stafford- Stafford is a young guy with a ton of offensive potential. By all indications he had a disappointing season last year but he will be in his second full NHL season this year.
- Paul Gaustad- Gaustad has become a go-to guy for the Sabres in many situatiuons. He was by far the best Sabres in the faceoff circle and he is a true leader. Gaustad was selected to play for the USA in the World Championships but couldn't play because of injury.
- Daniel Paille- Paille signed a new contract in the off-season after having a breakout season with 19 goals last season.
- Adam Mair- Mair brings physical play to the Sabres and has really become a fixture on this team.
- Andrew Peters- Peters is the Sabres goon...nough said.
Likely to Make Roster
- Ales Kotalik- Kotalik has forever been considered an under achiever, although that moniker is unwarranted. Kotalik has been the Sabres best power play contributor for many years and he can also bring a physical presence when he feels like it. He is an importnat part of the team but because he is a free agent after the season he may end up elsewhere.
- Tim Connolly- Connolly is also a free agent at the end of the season and he is injury prone. If Connolly can avoid injury, he will be a key part of this team.
- Maxim Afinogenov- Max had one of his worst seasons in recent memory last year. Max was so bad that Darcy Regier publicly stated that he may need a change of scenery. This season we will see exactly what Max is ande of because he has motivation to prove he is still a good NHL players, it doesn't hurt that this is a contract year either.
- Patrick Kaleta- I'm not sure what Kaleta has to do to prove he belongs in the NHL but I feel he is a fringe player again. Kaleta did everything that was asked of him and more last season and yet I say he is a question mark. The truth is that Kaleta will probably be a question mark every season of his NHL career and all that means is that he has to prove that he belongs every season.
- Clarke MacArthur- MacArthur spent some time with the Sabres last season and proved that he has some skill offensively. The problem with MacArthur has always been his consistency and unless he proves his consitency he will once again be playing in the AHL.
Not Yet Ready For Primetime
- Mathieu Darche- Darche was signed as a free agent in the off-season and despite playing a good portion of last season in the NHL with Tampa Bay, Darche will spend most of the season in Portland and will only be used in case of injury.
- Marek Zagrapan- Zagrapan was drafted by the Sabres with high expectations but he has yet to live up to them. This is a huge season for Zagrapan to prove that he can be an NHL player.
- Mark Mancari- Mancari has put up big numbers in the AHL but he has never had much of an opportunity to play in the NHL.
- Nathan Gerbe- Gerbe was a HObey Baker Award Finalist last year and he led the B.C. Eagles to a Frozen Four Championship in the NCAA but he needs at least one year of seasoning in the AHL. There are plenty of people that think he should play in the NHL immediately but the Sabres have enough depth to allow him some seasoning.
- Tim Kennedy- see above
That is 19 forwards that have an opportunity to play at least part time with the Sabres this season. Stay tuned tomorrow when we break down the Sabres Defense.