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Predicting Sabres Opening Night Roster

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In the last couple of days we have heard a lot of talk about the Sabres possible line combination's.  We have also heard talk about the play of the rookies and who might be able to crack the Sabres lineup.  Will Nathan Gerbe make the team?  How about Tim Kennedy?  Does Tyler Myers have a chance?  Mike Weber, any chance he makes it?

NHL teams have to pare their roster to a maximum of 23 players by next week when the season starts. The Sabres brass have plenty of difficult decisions in the next couple days but we are going to have a little bit of fun with it.  There are some players that are guaranteed to make the roster but the bottom players are less predictable.

I'm going to take a crack at predicting the roster after the jump. Feel free to take a crack at it in the comments.

Line 1 -  Thomas Vanek-Derek Roy-Drew Stafford

Line 2 -  Clarke MacArthur-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville

Line 3 -  Jochen Hecht-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier

Line 4 -  Daniel Paille-Adam Mair(inj)-Patrick Kaleta

That is a total of 12 forward on the roster.  Adam Mair is injured ad could start the season on the injured list.  This would open up an opportunity for another forward.  The Sabres are likely to carry only 13 forwards but they could carry as many as 14.  This leaves one or maybe two spots available.

 

Pairing 1-  Craig Rivet-Chris Butler

Pairing 2- Andrej Sekera-Steve Montador

Pairing 3- Toni Lydman-

I left the sixth defense spot open because I am not sure that Tallinder is not a bubble player.  I believe that the Sabres will carry eight defensemen early in the season until we see what will play out.  We all know that Ryan Miller and Patrick Lalime will be the two goalies so I won't bore you with the details.

Bubble Players

 

Matt Ellis

Why he could make it -  Ellis proved last season that he is a hard working player and can make things happen on determination.  Nobody will confuse Ellis with the most talented players in the league but nobody will ever question his determination.  Ellis has the benefit of having played with the Sabres last season and he will have to clear waivers if he is sent to Portland.

Why he might not make it -  Ellis is a hard working player but he doesn't have near the talent that youngsters Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy have.  He could find himself behind both Kennedy and Gerbe as well as McCormick and other gritty players when the season starts.

My Prediction -  Healthy Scratch

 

Cody McCormick

Why he could make it -  The best chance for McCormick to make the team is the injury to Adam Mair.  McCormick will fit in nicely as a fourth line center in the absence of Mair.  If Mair is on the injured list it will be McCormick that takes his place.

Why he might not make it -  The Sabres never intended for McCormick to make the opening day roster.  The signing was a organizational depth move and gives the Sabres some flexibility in case of injury.

My Prediction -  Fourth Line Center (till Mair returns)  Portland Pirates (when Mair returns)

 

Jeff Cowan

Why he could make it -  The guy is so popular that he has his own fansite.  He has been able to play at a high level in the past and he brings more toughness to the lineup.  He is a fan favorite and the Sabres are desperately in need of some good PR.

Why he might not make it -  see above.  He was brought in to be a depth player and that is what he will be for the Sabres.

My Prediction -  Portland Pirates

 

Nathan Gerbe

Why he could make it -  He was the rookie of the year last year in the AHL.  He has some unbelievable offensive skill that would be wasted in Portland.  The Sabres are need of a dynamic player and Gerbe could be that player.

Why he might not make it -  There are too many players ahead of him.  Gerbe is not capable of being a checking forward and needs to play in the top six.  With Vanek-Roy-Stafford-Connolly-MacArthur and Pominville ahead of him, he'll have to wait is turn.

My Prediction - Portland Pirates

 

Tim Kennedy

Why he could make it -  Kennedy brings more to the table than Gerbe because he can play in both ends of the rink.  Kennedy is in the final year of his contract and the Sabres might want to see him play in the NHL to make sure they want to re-sign him.

Why he might not make it -  see Gerbe.  Kennedy is a good player and he could be a great player but he is going to have to wait his turn behind the players that have NHL experience.

My Prediction - Portland Pirates

 

Henrik Tallinder

Why he could make it -  There are $3.5 million reasons that Tallinder will make this team.  In all seriousness, he has a history with the team and it wasn't that long ago that he was on the top pairing.  If Tallinder can bounce back this season the Sabres will be a better team.

Why he might not make it -  No player has regressed more than Tallinder in the past couple of seasons.  As bad as Hecht was a year ago, he was great in comparison to Tallinder.  I think Tallinder's mistakes are magnified because he was so good a couple of seasons ago.

My Prediction -  Healthy Scratch

 

Nathan Paetsch

Why he could make it -  He also has a history but more importantly, he is versatile.  Paetsch can fill in on forward as well as defense and he can play the point on the power play.  Paetsch showed plenty of promise a couple of seasons ago and it will be hard for Lindy to look past that.

Why he might not make it -  Paetsch has never been able to become more than a seventh defenseman.  There used to be high hopes but he just hasn't lived up to the hype.

My Prediction -  Spare Forward/Defense

 

Tyler Myers

Why he could make it -  Huge expectations.  Everyone is anxious to see this kid play in a live NHL game.  It may be the right move because he is too good for juniors.  Because he is only 19 years-old he is ineligible to play in Portland.  The Sabres have to keep him in Buffalo all season or send him back to juniors.  The big question is development.  Is it more important for him to stay in Buffalo and play sparingly or go back to juniors?

Why he might not make it -  It's not worth the Sabres losing a year on his rookie contract.  If he goes back to juniors he will still have three years on his rookie contract.

My Prediction -  Third Line Pairing

 

Mike Weber

Why he could make it -  He has been the Sabres most physical player in the pre-season.  He has a ton of confidence in comparison to where he was two seasons ago.  He fits the mold of what the Sabres are trying to become.  He is a grity player that will never back away from a challenge.

Why he might not make it -  He is not Tyler Myers

Prediction -  Portland Pirates