The beginning of any training camp marks an important milestone for fans, as it gives us the first chance to see who the coaching staff thinks will work well together, what the pairings might be, and who has the first crack at the starting goaltending gig.
Today, a few of those questions were answered as the Buffalo Sabres unveiled new lines and pairings in their first training camp practice. While the lines are split up between three practice groups, we've consolidated the top lines here for ease of argument. You can check out the full line and pairing combinations at Sabres.com.
At first glance, the forwards are much unchaged from last season, at least at the top. Moulson, Ennis, and Stafford are three of the team's best forwards and certainly their best scoring trio. Girgensons gets the full-time promotion to second line center, while Reinhart gets his chance with two big bodies in Foligno and Stewart. It's also comforting to know that the Cody Hodgson at center experiment is over, as both he and Gionta on the wing allows the team's youth movement to take their place down the middle.
As expected, the bottom-six forward spots will be a fight between veterans such as Matt Ellis, Patrick Kaleta, and Torrey Mitchell, and youngsters like Johan Larsson, Nic Deslauriers, and Luke Adam.
On the defensive side of things, it seems Gorges-Myers will be the Sabres de-facto top pairing, while Ristolainen will have to prove he can carry Andre Benoit in order to make an impression. The pairing of Zadorov and Pysyk puts two young guys fighting for a roster spot together, and their futures might be intertwined as a result.
The defensive battle will be one of the biggest stories of camp, along with the goaltending battle (no word on that yet) and the captaincy. Give us your thoughts on the new look for the Sabres in the comments, and stay tuned for more training camp updates.