With the lockout over and the NHL ready to kick off shortly, let’s look back and review what additions, subtractions, and organizational changes the Sabres made in the offseason.
Steve Ott – The biggest change this offseason was the swap that brought Steve Ott to Buffalo and sent Derek Roy packing. Ott is everything Roy was not, in both good and bad ways. He’s a fierce competitor, skates his tail off on every shift, loves to hit, will stick up for his teammates, and is a great locker room presence. Of course, that comes at a cost of reduced offensive output – Ott would be lucky to crack 20 goals in a full season – but the Sabres are hoping that what he brings to the ice in other ways will make up for those missing 20-30 points.
John Scott – One of Darcy Regier’s offseason mandates was to make the Sabres tougher to play against, and bringing in John Scott certainly fits that bill. This mountain of a man is strictly a fourth-line player, and is more likely to be the emergency forward than to see regular playing time, but you can bet he’ll see the ice every time a team like Boston or Philadelphia comes to town.
Adam Pardy – Pardy was the other piece coming to Buffalo in the Roy-Ott deal, but at this point looks to be strictly a depth defenseman who will be spending most of the season in Rochester. Still, he has NHL experience, and Sabres fans know better than most just how valuable that can be if injuries strike.
Kevin Porter – Another depth player, Porter comes to Buffalo by way of Colorado, where after a promising sophomore campaign, his play tailed off so badly that he had trouble finding time on the ice. He’s currently playing well as the captain in Rochester, and could challenge for a fourth line spot, but at this point, first call-up is the more likely option.
Derek Roy – With the exception of Lindy Ruff, I don’t think anybody in Buffalo has had more "He’s gotta go!" rants directed at them than Derek Roy. However, amidst all the suggestions of lazy play, poor locker room attitude, and too much partying, Roy was a very productive second line center for the Sabres. The team is hoping that some combination of Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and Steve Ott can replace Roy’s production, but with Roysie off the team, Sabres fans will have to find someone new to direct their hatred at. Just be gentle to Ville Leino, ok?
Jochen Hecht – The former longest tenured Sabre is no longer on the team after Regier & Co. decided not to re-sign him this offseason. Hecht suffered from concussions more over the past two seasons than almost any player in the NHL, and his risk of injury apparently outweighed any production the 33-year old could have provided. Sabres fans will miss his terrible angle shots and easily punnable name, and that’s no Joch(en).
Brad Boyes – Brad Boyes, Brad Boyes, whatcha gonna do? Not play for the Sabres any more, that’s for sure.
Sabres Who Played In Europe
Thomas Vanek, Tyler Ennis, Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Sulzer, Jhonas Enroth. Mike Weber and Jason Pominville also played overseas for a short time.
Potential Sabres Who Played In The AHL
Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb, TJ Brennan, Zemgus Girgensons. Corey Tropp would have likely made the team, but suffered a season ending injury during his first game.
Sabres University - Terry Pegula told the organization to make itself better during the offseason, and that mandate morphed into Sabres University, a program during November where team employees would teach classes to their peers ranging from salary cap management to public relations to Zamboni operation. Who knows how, or if, it will pay off, but it's a smart idea nonetheless, and another example of Pegula and Ted Black doing things right.
No More Harbor Club - This one is more for arena-goers than anyone, but the Harbor Club, longtime swanky hangout spot for food and drinks before and during games, has had its naming rights bought by Lexus and will now be known as the Lexus Club. Makes it sound a bit more fancy, I suppose, but it'll always be the Harbor Club to me.
Rick Jeanneret And Rob Ray Will Broadcast Every Game - After a few years of reduced workload, Rick Jeanneret will work every game for the Sabres this year, and will be joined by Rob Ray as the team's color analyst. Harry Neale has been relegated to between-periods appearances, and will be joined by Mike Robitaille with Brian Duff as host. Kevin Sylvester was sent off to WGR 550AM to host Sabres Hockey Hotline every weekday from 10am-noon. Also of note, the Sabre will use their own broadcast when facing New York teams this year as opposed to hijacking the Rangers, Devils, or Islanders broadcasts.
And there's your offseason in a nutshell. Let us know if we forgot anything in the comments.