I have been the leader of the Sabres bandwagon as of late, telling you that this years team will be a good team but I do have one big concern. I am extremely concerned about the Sabres ability to win face-offs. I know this sounds like a petty concern but hockey is a game of possession and winning face-offs will give you possession. The Sabres lost their top face-off guy the second Chris Drury signed with the Rangers. Drury was 58.8% on face offs last season and was fourth in the league in total face-off wins.
I don't want to bore you with stats but I'll give you some numbers to think about. On the current roster Tim Connolly, Derek Roy, and Paul Gaustad are true Centers and will take the majority of the face-offs. It is impossible to predict what Connolly's stats will be because he didn't play enough last season. If last seasons playoffs are any indication I don't expect a whole lot from Connolly on face-offs. Derek Roy also struggled on face-offs last season winning only 48.5% of his face-offs. Paul Gaustad was a little better on face-offs winning 52.8%. If the Sabres don't acquire a better face-off guy through free agency or a trade I would expect Gaustad to take the majority of the big face-offs.
I think getting a good face-off guy needs to be a priority for Darcy Regier. The options left in free agency are very limited. It appears that the best face-off guys left in free agency are Jeff O'Neill and Eric Lindros. I could see both guys being able to contribute if healthy but they have had their share of injury troubles. It is being reported that Lindros is not focused on resuming his career at this point because he focused on the NHLPA. It is well known that O'Neill was excited when he went to Toronto and would love to stay there but Buffalo may be close enough to Toronto for him.
I think a better route for the Sabres would be to try to get someone through a trade. I have no inside information on any possible trades but a couple of guys who have decent percentages are Michael Zigomanis, Manny Maholtra, and Mike Cammilerri. I'm not sure that any of those guys are available but maybe if the Sabres offered up Kotalik they could pry one of these guys away.
I wouldn't expect to see any moves by the Sabres until they get the Derek Roy situation solved. As I stated before the Sabres payroll is much higher than their cap number so they have to be careful what they spend. I could see the Sabres going into the season with what they have and waiting till closer to the deadline to make a move. I would love to hear your take on this situation and also what is your biggest concern with the Sabres.