This was the number three burning question in the NHL this season according to The Hockey News. I could not find a link to the story but it is in the most recent issue of the Hockey News labeled September 18, 2007. This is something I have addressed over and over since the blog started back in July but I thought I'd talk about it one more time to address the story written.
The loss of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere is going to sting a little bit but there is no franchise in the league that could absorb two losses of this magnitude better than the Buffalo Sabres can. The Sabres will ask Derek Roy to take a more prominent role in the offense, which I am certain he is ready for and the Sabres will also welcome back a healthy Tim Connolly to help out at center.
Derek Roy had a decent season last year with 63 points but shared his ice time with Drury and Briere which put him at 17 or 18 minutes a game but this season I anticipate him playing in the 23 to 25 minute range. He proved he could handle the load when Chris Drury was injured last season. I'm predicting an 80 point season for Roy with 20-25 goals which would help ease the pain of losing Drury and Briere.
Tim Connolly was just coming into his own when he was hit by Peter Schaeffer of the Ottawa Senators and missed most of last season. Connolly was only able to play two games in the regular season and all of the playoffs. Connolly will be counted on to be a regular contributor this season and will be the second line center for a team that is not deep up the middle.
The Sabres are going to struggle winning faceoffs which is going to hurt this team considerably. The Sabres will probably need to upgrade this area at some point during the season. In the past couple of seasons the Sabres did not make many roster changes but I anticipate that this season could be different. The core of this team is here and the core is pretty solid (even without Drury and Briere) but I anticipate a couple of moves throughout the season.
The final thought is that the Sabres did not really screw up. They may set a minor (an I repeat minor) setback this season but the future is bright in Buffalo. The Sabres will still be a playoff team this season and will get better in the next couple of seasons.
THN Says: The Sabres will be fine but they've kissed their chances at a Stanley Cup goodbye.