Bigger and tougher is the trend in Buffalo
The Sabres most recent move, parting ways with Nathan Gerbe, is one in a line of actions that make one thing very clear; its time to bulk up.
Have you noticed a trend with the Buffalo Sabres, one that changes the style of the team that has become known for small speedsters? Darcy Regier has decided that the way to build a successful team in the NHL is to get big and tough, to follow the Philadelphia Flyers model in a way. Its much different from the type of players he was interested in out of the lockout.
It starts at the very bottom, with the prospects. Look at the Sabres recent drafts. Joel Armia is 6'3''. Mikhail Grigorenko is 6'3'', while Zemgus Girgensons is 6'2''. Most recently, the Sabres selected two defenseman, 6'3'' Rasmus Ristolainen and 6'5'' Nikita Zadorov.
Then the Sabres make roster moves that point to getting bigger and tougher to play against. John Scott is the easiest to point to, but that's not really the type of player that you'd prefer. Mixing skill and toughness is what a GM really wants, a player like Steve Ott is a much better example of grit seeping into the Sabres lineup. Add in Marcus Foligno (another one of those draft picks) and Patrick Kaleta and you already have a few very physical forwards.
Mike Weber developed into a very solid defenseman last year, especially under Ron Rolston. He should get more minutes this year, and possibly even an "A" on his sweater. Ehrhoff and Myers certainly aren't the toughest, but they are big. Adam Pardy, if he returns, is a solid 6'4'' and one of the tougher D-men they'd have.
You can look at a roster and hypothesize that it was a plan, that the Sabres really want to trend bigger. What really tells you what they are looking for are the moves that they make, especially the two most recent ones. Trading Andrej Sekera to Carolina for a guy like Jamie McBain is a move that has you swapping very different styled defensemen. You give up a solid skating and a bit smaller player for another one of those big physical minded defensemen.
The Sabres also parted ways with Nathan Gerbe on a buyout after a lackluster 5 goal season for the little winger. At 5'5'' he's the poster child for the type of team the Sabres used to have, the type of players that they would always target in the draft.
Gerbe was boughtout simply because he didn't fit into the mold anymore. The league has moved away from the post-lockout quickness and back to old-style hockey. Darcy may be a bit behind the curve, but its very apparent he's trying to change the makeup and reputation of the Sabres on the ice. Does it work? Well, I guess its a bit early to tell. Its not all about getting guys who are just physically big, they have to be good too. The Sabres are a few players away from even being considered a contender, but they will be looking for a certain type to add to the roster. A guy like Nathan Horton sure seems to fit the bill.