In the past few years, the Buffalo Sabres have seen a resurgence of youth. Sitting high atop their mountain of draft picks, the Sabres are creating a franchise with kids who were too young to remember Y2K. And I love it.
Rookies are known for their fresh legs, uncorrupted sense of of spirit, and wide eyes. Sharing a locker next to a veteran, or sitting next to them on a road trip is something that they seldom take for granted. They’re often the butt of everyone’s jokes, and fall victim to pranks around the locker room.
But when it comes to the future of the team, these guys are the foundation which a Stanley Cup will (hopefully) be built on.
The Sabres are currently stuck in a strange position. They are in the process of slowly getting rid of the veterans to allow room for the new generation of the team.
It’s time for them to speed it up.
Gionta and Gorges are the first two that need to go. Trade them for draft picks, trade them to free cap room. I don’t care, just trade them.
If Matt Moulson wasn’t having a breakout year at the ripe age of 33, he’d be on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for him. Everyone says that he’s the nicest guy in the NHL and I totally believe. I mean, the guy had Eichel live in his house last year so he would have a smooth transition to the NHL, total class act. Just keep in mind that he had only 21 points last year despite appearing in 81 games.
It’s not personal. These veterans do provide guidance for the younger guys and are credited with a point every so often, but they seem to be weighing the team down more than propelling it forward.
Gionta has been captain for just over two years, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the best leader on the team. Unfortunately it looks like he's lost his step, which is perfectly fine for a 37 year old. It's almost unrealistic to expect him to keep up with the exponentially growing speed of the game.
Gorges had only 12 points last year and more often than not seemed to be a traffic cone than a defender.
These guys aren't the worst players in the NHL by any means and taking them off the roster won’t result in an immediate playoff birth.
It will give the younger guys a chance to prove themselves.
Guhle is my pick to take the spot of Gorges. Three games into his NHL career and he’s already show that he can handle the pressure, despite only being 19. Guhle isn’t a pure two-way defender in the way Rasmus Ristolainen is, but you can definitely expect some points to come off his stick thanks to his slick skating and passing skills.
If we’re looking to Rochester, Nick Baptiste or Justin Bailey would be my pick to replace Brian Gionta. Both have a few NHL games under their belt, and have shown potential to grow into talented players. Bailey’s size and speed is exactly what the Sabres need, while getting rid of the smaller and slower veterans.
Baptiste has 14 points through 14 games with the Amerks. He’s young, big, and specializes in crashing the net. As much as I want to give Cal O’Reilly a chance, I think we’ve missed the window of opportunity with him. He’s leading the Amerks in points and assists, but his NHL career won’t yield the same numbers.
Am I overly optimistic about the Buffalo Sabres prospects? Probably. The front office is waiting for the older players to step up, and I don’t see it happening.