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Previewing the Sabres

Last week we took a look at some rankings from major hockey publications and today we will do it for a final time.  The rankings are extremely overrated because they never come true and these rankings are done before teams have finalized their rosters.  It's actually pointless to pay attention to these rankings but they generally spark a debate.

We already looked at the rankings lets take a look at some season previews.  I will wait to actually preview the season here, at least till they start training camp.  I find it funny that in every one of these rankings they bring up Chris Drury and Dannt Briere...NEWS FLASH...they have been gone for over a year now and are irrelevant.

We'll start with what I feel is the worst of the previews and continue on from there.  Ross McKeon from Yahoo Sports did a preview back on September 4.

But the identity of the team changed last offseason when the 1-2 punch at center in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury departed for greener pastures, and the team felt forced to trade All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell when it appeared contract negotiations were headed for the same dead end as the recent ex-co-captains.

Buffalo fans are tired of hearing about it, but departures were not adequately replaced and the Sabres not only paid for it with a non-playoff season in the spring but also a questionable outlook for 2008-09.

Buffalo fans aren't the only fans that are tired of hearing about it, I think hockey fans in general are tired of hearing about it.  The Sabres goal scoring was not a problem last season.  The team scored 251 goals on the season which was behind only Ottawa (258), Montreal (257) and Detroit (252).  The defense was the obvious issue on the team, allowing 233 goals (22nd in the league) for 2.84 Goals Against per Game.  Sure the year before they scored 298 and led the league but there were 10 teams that scored 252 or more that year.  Scoring was down throughout the entire league.  That season the Sabres were 13th in the league with 238 Goals against.

And last, Ruff rotated the captaincy around the room from month-to-month, but it’s time to designate and assign more full-time leadership. Rivet was shocked by his trade from San Jose, a place he enjoyed playing. As long as he has his head on straight, it wouldn’t be the worst move to allow a relative outsider to take the reins of the room. There really aren’t a lot of obvious candidates among the players with tenure. Jochen Hecht? Derek Roy? Jason Pominville? You see our point. Rivet brings the accountability, respect and the know-how to give the team a new, strong voice.

I partially agree with the above statement (we will have a post about this really soon).  The Sabres need to have a designated captain, it will be really good for the team to have a leader to look up to.  Is Craig Rivet the right choice?  I certainly don't think so and I also don't agree with knocking the leadership qualities of Hecht, Roy and Pominville.

Let's switch gears and take a look at the preview that was put together by John McGourty.





This is actually a pretty good preview, if you haven't read it yet I suggest you do.  It's pretty obvious that McGourty did some research and recognizes the fact the Sabres were a good offense last season.

Remove a division titlist's best player from the roster and you've got a team with a problem. Remove the top three players and you likely have a team that fails to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's what happened to the Buffalo Sabres last season when the top two centers, Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, left via free agency and top defenseman Teppo Numminen was diagnosed with a heart ailment at the opening of training camp.

There is however a trend with everyone talking about losing Drury and Briere.  I hope that when this season starts we can finally stop talking about that.

The Final season preview was done by TSN in their 30 teams in 30 days feature.  Usually TSN has the best hockey coverage on the net (outside of Die by the Blade and the rest of the SB Nation Hockey Blogs), this preview is no different.

Losing two high-quality centres in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury without getting comparable replacements took a huge bite out of their depth chart and the team suddenly became younger and less experienced down the middle.

To make matters worse, the Sabres were caught in another sticky money situation with soon-to-be free agent defenceman Brian Campbell. With a horrible January stretch, bleak postseason hopes and no progress in contract talks, general manager Darcy Regier sent him to the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline rather than lose him for nothing. 

Anyone else see a trend here?

Once again they recognize that the Sabres were a good offensive team last year and previes some things they expect this season.  This is the only preview that mentions the importance of Lindy Ruff.  I think that gets lost in everything said about this team, there is  reason that Ruff is the longest tenured coach in the NHL.

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