After a tumultuous offseason that saw the Buffalo Sabres do more to hurt their reputation than enhance it, the 2013-14 season is about ready to start with training camp opening on Wednesday. With that comes a handful of questions that have been lingering around the team through the whole offseason.
1. Will Cody Hodgson have a contract when training camp starts?
Yes. See here.
2. Who will be the new captain for the Sabres?
The Sabres have rotated through captains over the last couple of seasons and head into training camp needing another captain. We covered a few options here, here, and here during Captaincy Week. The main problem with the current crop of captain candidates is that most of the players are on the final year of their contract and not currently in talks for an extension. The Buffalo News' John Vogl talked to Ron Rolston about the situation yesterday and put out this tweet:
Ron Rolston will rotate captaincy during preseason before deciding on C. He has no problem giving it to player in last year of deal(Ott/Van)— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 11, 2013
Besides, if you are a player being considered for captain this year, would you want to be captain given the track record over the last few years? The last two captains have either been traded or waived while wearing the 'C'.
3. How will the Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek situations play out?
Really, the main question here is whether there will be a situation with Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek this upcoming season. As they head into training camp, both guys are saying all the right things about the situation and being professionals. But, the trade talks won't go away unless either:
a.) The team is in playoff contention when the Olympics roll around or
b.) They sign extensions during the season.
Neither Miller or Vanek sound awful keen at the moment on signing or even talking about extensions during the season, so the trade winds will continue to wind through the season. Will these trade talks have an effect on player performance or overall team morale through the season?
4. Who will stand out at camp and earn a spot on the club?
There is always one player every year who works their way onto the main squad or earn a spot in Rochester from a Professional Tryout Contract. The question is who does it this year?
The biggest surprise on the training camp roster in terms of Professional Tryout Contracts is Colton Gillies. Gillies has been in the NHL for four seasons and bounced between the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. Last season, Gillies played 27 games for Columbus, recording just one goal, one assist, and 17 penalty minutes. The Sabres only have 12 forwards that played for the main club under contract, so Gillies will be competing for a spot with guys like Zemgus Girgersons.
Speaking of Girgersons, there will be a couple players that played for Rochester that will make a charge for the parent club. Zemgus grew into his role with the Americans as the season progressed and had a final regular season stat line of six goals and 11 assists in 61 games. He blossomed in the playoffs against the Toronto Marlies, scoring three goals in three games, and basically tried to carry the team on his back. The question now is can he make enough of an impression to make the Sabres roster this season?
5. Will the fans be able to keep their sanity this season.
The 2013 offseason has been anything but optimistic for Sabres fans and the season itself doesn't appear to be much better. There has been a lot of negativity surrounding the team on social media. The team started the 2013 offseason by making a coaching hire that was somewhat uninspiring and then proceeded to not make many changes to the roster during the NHL Draft or free agency. Add to that, the organization had one of the most excruciating jersey leaks during the summer which led to one of the most loathed jerseys of all time.
The Sabres have the perception of being a tire fire this season and the organization continues to keep adding fuel to the fire. So when the season starts, will fans actually be able to see the positive in some things, or will they just continue to build that fire that has been growing over the last year?