Sabres Opening Day Roster Battles: Forwards

BUFFALO - OCTOBER 3: Tim Connolly #19 of the Buffalo Sabres skates for a loose puck with temmate Steve Montador #4 and David Laliberte #10 of the Philadelphia Flyers during their NHL preseason game at HSBC Arena October 3 2010 in Buffalo New York.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

With the final preseason game completed, its time to figure out who is going to make the opening day roster. We start with the forwards:

Locks

- Tim Connolly, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht, Rob Niedermayer, Patrick Kaleta, Mike Grier, Drew Stafford

These players have either been stalwarts in the Buffalo offense or have been brought in to the Buffalo offense to make an impact. None of these players have the fear of losing their jobs especially with a productive offense in the preseason. 

On The Bubble

Tyler Ennis

This seems like a ridiculous statement because of how well Ennis has played in the preseason with two goals and one assist but it is something to bring up. Ennis still has rights to head down to Portland and could be an option for the team if they don't want to risk losing anyone through the waiver process. 

That being said, the Sabres should keep Ennis and Ennis has the possibility of cracking the top two lines, especially if Thomas Vanek is going to miss the start of the season. The Ennis-Roy-Stafford line clicked really well on Sunday and could be a good match of players 

For more players on the bubble and our predictions on the lines for the season, follow the jump.

Nathan Gerbe

Gerbe is another rookie player that has made an impression this preseason and has given himself a strong case to make the lineup. The problem with Gerbe and with Ennis too is that their talents would almost seem to be wasted on the third and fourth lines. Gerbe had three goals in six games during the preseason and made a serious case to make the team this year. 

Gerbe has always been a favorite of Sabres fans ever since he scored the game winning goal in the Frozen Four. He has shown that he has the offensive skill to be a great player, but is his size going to be an issue?

Cody McCormick

Personally, I always thought that McCormick was a lock to make the team with a one-way contract but with the emergence of Gerbe, it may pose an issue. McCormick is a physical player who is not afraid to drop the gloves. In 66 games with the Portland Pirates last season, McCormick had 168 penalty minutes and 29 points. McCormick has a physical presence with a decent offensive presence. 

Matt Ellis

Ellis has been a great piece in the Sabres roster for the last few years and was given a one-year contract for his troubles in the past two years. Ellis signed a two-way contract so playing in Portland was almost a forgone conclusion. Ellis has been a good fourth liner with 10 goals and 15 assists in two seasons and will be a good veteran presence in Portland. 

Two of these players will be making the starting lineup and two will be sent to Portland. Here is what my personal prediction for the starting lines will be:

Vanek-Connolly-Pominville
Ennis-Roy-Stafford
Hecht-Niedermayer-Grier
McCormick-Gaustad-Kaleta

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