Over the past few weeks there has been endless speculation about what Darcy will do to fix a roster that seems to be a bit unbalanced with a log jam of NHL caliber blueliners and many players who seem to be up in the air as to whether they will be playing in Buffalo or Rochester next year. Fans, media, and other outlets have discussed thoroughly about the possibilities of trading for top six forwards and continuing to shake up the roster.
I'm going to take a look into the future and speculate what the roster may look like if Darcy and company DO NOT make any additional moves from now until training camp.
The consensus top line when you speak to most people seems to be the combination of Vanek, Hodgson, and Pominville. I seem to be in this camp as well. We have seen what Cody has been doing the past few days in camp and the potential he has to be a solid top six forward. Vanek and Pominville are mainstays and are the most consistent forwards for the Sabres. With Hodgson benefitting from being able to go through training camp and practices with these two vets I think this line has the potential to be solid.
The second line will hopefully stay in tact from last year and continue its potentcy. The line of Foligno, Ennis, and Stafford was extremely productive down the stretch last season and it would make sense to allow that line to stay together to start next season. Ennis is at his best in the middle and Marcus is quickly becoming my new favorite Sabre. This line would be a solid second line.
The third line is where the debate starts to come into play. Will Gregorenko make the roster? Will Luke Adam center this line? Will Steve Ott play wing or center? The best option for the third line would be the combination of Nathen Gerbe, Luke Adam, and Steve Ott. Luke has been playing wing in camp but I think his best spot is center. Hopefully he will be able to come close to playing the way he was at the begining of last season. We have seen what Nathan can do and even though there has been some mumbles from people about moving Gerbe I think he still has potential to grow at both ends of the ice. Since the trade has happened we have all heard what Ott brings, putting him on the thrid line with these two youngsters will give the Sabres a solid third line who can play defense and still add some offensive punch.
The fourth line will consist of some combination of Ellis, Tropp, McCormick, Kaleta, and John Scott. I think with the idea of trying to put the most productive line on the ice night in and night out I feel the best combo would be Tropp, McCormick, and Kaleta. Even though I've never been a huge McCormick fan he still makes the most sense to center the last line. Tropp was solid at times last year and I think he will be a good fourth line guy. Patty Kaleta will continue to bother people and be the typical grinder. There was some talk of putting him on a line with Ott and Gerbe to create the ultimate pain in the back line but I still think Ott should stay on the wing and the addition of Adam will spark more offense.