This is a post that I wrote last week but it still holds relative today because there are key decisions to be made by the Sabres coaching staff. Before the season we talked in depth about the difficult decisions they would need to make in regards to the roster. They made the decision to keep Tim Kennedy and Tyler Myers to start the season and both guys have made them look like geniuses.
The decisions that were made were obviously correct decisions. It is almost decision time again because the Sabres have eight defensemen on the roster and Myers has played six games. Remember Myers can only play nine games before his contract will kick in and make him a free agent a year earlier.
The Sabres have not been forced to make a decision on the blueline because of injuries to key players on that unit. Toni Lydman began the season on the injured list and now Andrej Sekera is out of the lineup with an injury. The injuries have delayed the need for decision but a decision is inevitable at some point.
I don't expect the Sabres to carry eight defensemen all season, especially with 14 NHL caliber forwards on the team as well. There are plenty of options for the Sabres to explore when the need arises.
The easiest option would be to send Myers back to juniors before he plays 10 games and freeing up a roster spot while avoiding his contract kicking in. If that is the decision it will be made before the Sabres take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday October 30.
Myers has been one of, if not the best Sabres blueliner this season. He is playing around 20 minutes a game and has a goal, three assists and a plus-5 rating. He has accomplished this as a 19 year-old rookie that figures to become even better with experience.
Another option for the Sabres would be to do something with Henrik Tallinder. Before the season started he appeared to be the odd man out on the Sabres blueline. He had gone from the Sabres best defenseman to their worst in just two seasons. He has been laying alongside Myers this season and is as close as we have sen to the old Tallinder.
Tallinder has also played around 20 minutes a game and he leads the team with a plus-6 rating. He was an amazing plus-5 in the Sabres 6-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday. His confidence is very evident in his play on the ice, especially the way he is playing the puck.
Nathan Paetsch looks like the obvious man out regarding a roster spot. He has not even gotten a sniff of the lineup although his name was mentioned as a replacement when Vanek was injured. I'm sure it was never a consideration but it was mentioned by Lindy Ruff.
If the Sabres waive Paetsch after Sekera returns they would still have seven defensemen that can play everyday in the NHL. They could decide to go with a reward system and make the decision daily based on the player that has the worst game. The positive would be the incentive for the players to play well but the negative would be developing a chemistry with the players in the lineup.
If I were the one making the decision, Myers would stay in Buffalo and in the lineup. Paetsch would be waived and sent to Portland if he clears, although I think some team would be in the market for a versatile seventh defenseman. It would be Andrej Sekera that would remain in the press box until another player gets injured or regresses. Sekera was struggling before he went out with injury and he has regressed considerably since his start last season.