Buffalo Sabres 2014-15 Season Primer

Buffalo Sabres 2014-15 Season Primer

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The Buffalo Sabres are the second team we are taking a closer look at in our season primer series.

Use the below Tabs to view Sabres info for this upcoming season, as well as some numbers from last year.

2013-14 record: 21-51-10, 52 points
Where they finished: 8th in the Atlantic; 16th in the East; tied for 30th in the NHL

Player Salaries: $64,662,698 (24)
Cap Payroll: $58,419,166
Bonuses: $3,975,000
Cap Space: $10,580,834
Forwards: $35,869,167 (14)
Defensemen: $18,491,667 (8)
Goalies: $3,750,000 (2)
Source: CapGeek.com

In: Andre Benoit D, Andrej Meszaros D, Brian Gionta RW, Cody McCormick W/C, Jordan Samuels-Thomas LW, Josh Gorges D, Matt Moulson LW, Tyson Strachan D, Zac Dalpe RW/C

Out: Alexander Sulzer D, Christian Ehrhoff D, Cory Conacher LW/RW, Jamie Tardif RW, John Scott LW/D, Kevin Porter W/C, Matt D’Agostini RW/LW

2014-15 Team Outlook:

Realizing last season that it was time for a complete rebuild, the Sabres blew it up and traded stars Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for their 1st and 2nd round picks in 2015 and Matt Moulson. Moulson was after traded to the Wild. Ryan Miller, along with Steve Ott, were sent to the St. Louis Blues for Jaroslav Halak (who the Sabres then traded to Washington for goaltender Michal Neuvirth), Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, and a 2015 first round pick. The Sabres ended up winning both of those deals by a landslide, as neither Miller or Vanek stayed with those teams, choosing to instead sign as UFA’s with the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild respectively.

Upon making those deals the Sabres plummeted to the bottom of the standings, coming dead last in the NHL last season. The Buffalo Sabres have nowhere to go but up in 2014-15.

Even with the last place finish, the Sabres didn’t end up winning the Draft Lottery, losing out to the Florida Panthers and picked 2nd overall, although it’s widely believed the Sabres still got their man in Sam Reinhart as Aaron Ekblad plays defense; an area the Sabres are loaded with highly-skilled prospects.

Few teams were busier than Buffalo this offseason. The team signed multiple UFA’s to deals to improve their depth and add some veteran leadership to a group that would have been one of the leagues youngest this season, as Buffalo has a boatload of talented NHL ready prospects who are knocking on the door.

Offensively, the Sabres will be led by a very interchangeable top-six unit that includes Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson (re-acquired via free agency after being traded to the Wild last season), Chris Stewart and likely Drew Stafford. Rookie Sam Reinhart and the skilled Mikhail Grigorenko looking to crack the roster as well. The bottom-six group could be very similar to last season, with Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, and former Montreal Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta likely to make up the third-line and some combination of Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn, Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick rounding out the fourth-line. Other forwards with realistic shots at making the squad after a strong camp are Luke Adam, Philip Varone, and Johan Larsson.

Defense is where the Buffalo Sabres really stand out from the rest of the league, well, prospect wise anyways. Few teams, if any, have the kind of potential for a deadly back-end in the future than the Sabres do. World Junior standouts Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov lead the group that also includes USA World Junior captain Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk. All four of those defenseman have the ability to evolve into top-four quality defensemen in the NHL, with Ristolainen possessing the skill to be a top-pairing defenseman. As for the current defense group heading into next season, newly acquired Josh Gorges should fit in nicely alongside Tyler Myers on the first pairing. Having a smart defensive-minded defenseman to play with, Myers, who will be able to join the rush, might even yet turn into what people expected he would. The second-pairing will likely be Andrej Meszaros and Ristolainen, with a combination of Jake McCabe, Andre Benoit and Mike Weber making up the third. Other defensemen who have a shot to make the team are Tyson Strachan and the aforementioned Zadorov and Pysyk.

Goaltending isn’t really a strong or weak point for the Sabres. With the promising, but unproven combo of Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth, it’s hard to imagine what to expect. One thing that is for certain though is that the Sabres have some serious depth in the goalie department. In the AHL, the Sabres have Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen, both of which already have some NHL experience, as well as Andrey Makarov, who was solid while splitting time between the AHL and ECHL last season.

The Buffalo Sabres did their best to make the team better this offseason (and to reach the cap floor). It is definitely an interesting roster on paper that actually doesn’t look all that bad. There are a lot of “what ifs” for this team to actually succeed (Moulson and Stewart have to return to 25-30 goal form, Myers and Ristolainen must discover their true potential, the goalie combo has to hold up, one of Reinhart or Grigorenko have to step up and take over second-line centre), but all of the “what ifs” are actually doable; it happened for Colorado last year. If everything does come together for this Sabres team, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them pull of some upsets this year. With all that said, the team still isn’t quite strong enough to make the playoffs, but I can see them playing spoiler for other teams looking to do just that.

If the “what ifs” don’t work out however, expect the Sabres to once again trade away any pieces with value and try for one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. This might be the better route as they are franchise-altering type players.

Written by Greg Stamper, who can be found on twitter @g_stamp91.

The depth chart listed below was taken from NHL.com’s 30-in-30. 

FORWARDS
Matt Moulson – Cody Hodgson – Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis – Sam Reinhart – Chris Stewart
Marcus Foligno – Zemgus Girgensons – Brian Gionta
Matt Ellis – Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell
Cody McCormick – Patrick Kaleta

DEFENSEMEN
Josh Gorges – Tyler Myers
Mike Weber – Rasmus Ristolainen
Andrej Meszaros – Mark Pysyk
Andre Benoit

GOALTENDERS
Michal Neuvirth
Jhonas Enroth

Forwards POS HEIGHT WEIGHT DATE OF BIRTH BIRTH PLACE
Zac Dalpe C 6′ 1″ 195 1-Nov-89 PARIS, ON, CAN
Nicolas Deslauriers L 6′ 1″ 209 22-Feb-91 LASALLE, QC, CAN
Matt Ellis L 6′ 0″ 208 31-Aug-81 WELLAND, ON, CAN
Tyler Ennis C 5′ 9″ 169 6-Oct-89 EDMONTON, AB, CAN
Brian Flynn C 6′ 1″ 180 26-Jul-88 LYNNFIELD, MA, USA
Marcus Foligno L 6′ 3″ 223 10-Aug-91 BUFFALO, NY, USA
Brian Gionta R 5′ 7″ 176 18-Jan-79 ROCHESTER, NY, USA
Zemgus Girgensons C 6′ 1″ 190 5-Jan-94 RIGA, LVA
Cody Hodgson C 6′ 0″ 192 18-Feb-90 TORONTO, ON, CAN
Cody Mccormick C 6′ 2″ 224 18-Apr-83 LONDON, ON, CAN
Torrey Mitchell C 5′ 11″ 189 30-Jan-85 GREENFIELD PARK, QC, CAN
Matt Moulson L 6′ 1″ 200 1-Nov-83 NORTH YORK, ON, CAN
Drew Stafford R 6′ 2″ 214 30-Oct-85 MILWAUKEE, WI, USA
Chris Stewart R 6′ 2″ 231 30-Oct-87 TORONTO, ON, CAN
Defensemen HEIGHT WEIGHT AGE DATE OF BIRTH BIRTH PLACE
Andre Benoit 5′ 11″ 191 30 6-Jan-84 ST. ALBERT, ON, CAN
Josh Gorges 6′ 1″ 201 29 14-Aug-84 KELOWNA, BC, CAN
Jake Mccabe 6′ 0″ 195 20 12-Oct-93 EAU CLAIRE, WI, USA
Andrej Meszaros 6′ 2″ 223 28 13-Oct-85 POVAŽSKÁ BYSTRICA, SVK
Tyler Myers 6′ 8″ 219 24 1-Feb-90 HOUSTON, TX, USA
Mike Weber 6′ 2″ 212 26 16-Dec-87 PITTSBURGH, PA, USA
Goalies
Name HEIGHT WEIGHT AGE DATE OF BIRTH BIRTH PLACE
Jhonas Enroth 5′ 10″ 166 26 25-Jun-88 STOCKHOLM, SWE
Matt Hackett 6′ 2″ 171 24 7-Mar-90 LONDON, ON, CAN
Michal Neuvirth 6′ 1″ 209 26 23-Mar-88 ÚSTÍ NAD LABEM, CZE

A look at the Buffalo Sabres top prospects heading into this season. Each source may use different classifications as to if a player is deemed a prospect or has graduated on from a prospect.

RK NHL.com ESPN
Corey Pronman
Dobber Prospects Hockeys Future The Hockey News
1 Sam Reinhart Sam Reinhart Sam Reinhart Sam Reinhart Sam Reinhart
2 Nikita Zadorov Mikhail Grigorenko Nikita Zadorov Rasmus Ristolainen Rasmus Ristolainen
3 Hudson Fasching Nikita Zadorov Rasmus Ristolainen Nikita Zadorov Nikita Zadorov
4 Joel Armia Hudson Fasching Mikhail Grigorenko Mikhail Grigorenko Mikhail Grigorenko
5 Jake McCabe J.T. Compher Joel Armia Jake McCabe Joel Armia
6 J.T. Compher Joel Armia Nicholas Baptiste Joel Armia Brendan Lemieux
7 Nick Baptiste Gustav Possler Jake McCabe J.T. Compher Jake McCabe
8 Linus Ullmark Jake McCabe J.T. Compher Mark Pysyk Hudson Fasching
9 Jonas Johansson Nick Baptiste Hudson Fasching Brendan Lemieux Johan Larsson
10 Brendan Lemieux Eric Cornel William Carrier Chad Ruhwedel J.T. Compher

* Dobber Prospects – Prospects based on relevance in a fantasy-hockey keeper league, not actual talent on the ice.

Buffalo Sabres Draft History from the past five years

2014 Draft
Rd. Draft # Player Pos. Team Ht. Wt.
1 2 Sam Reinhart C Kootenay (WHL) 6′ 1″ 185
2 31 Brendan Lemieux LW Barrie (OHL) 6′ 0″ 206
2 44 Eric Cornel C Peterborough (OHL) 6′ 2″ 186
2 49 Vaclav Karabacek RW Gatineau (QMJHL) 6′ 0″ 182
3 61 Jonas Johansson G Brynas Jr (SWE) 6′ 3″ 200
3 74 Brycen Martin D Swift Current (WHL) 6′ 1″ 195
5 121 Maxwell Willman C Williston-Northampton HS (MA) 5′ 11″ 181
6 151 Christopher Brown C Cranbrook Kingswood HS (MI) 6′ 0″ 179
7 181 Victor Olofsson RW Modo Jr. (SWE) 5′ 7″ 157
2013 Draft
1 8 Rasmus Ristolainen D TPS (FIN) 6′ 4″ 205
1 16 Nikita Zadorov D London (OHL) 6′ 5″ 230
2 35 JT Compher C US-NTDP 6′ 0″ 184
2 38 Connor Hurley F Edina HS (MN) 6 ‘1″ 175
2 52 Justin Bailey C Kitchener (OHL) 6′ 3″ 190
3 69 Nicholas Baptiste RW Sudbury (OHL) 6′ 2″ 200
5 129 Calvin Petersen G Waterloo (USHL) 6′ 2″ 183
5 130 Gustav Possler W MODO (SWE) 5’11” 172
5 143 Anthony Florentino D South Kent School (HS CT ) 6′ 1″ 227
6 159 Sean Malone C Nichols HS (NY) 5’11” 176
7 189 Eric Locke LW Saginaw (OHL) 5′ 10″ 184
2012 Draft
1 12 Mikhail Grigorenko C Quebec (QMJHL) 6′ 3″ 200
1 14 Zemgus Girgensons C Dubuque (USHL) 6′ 2″ 175
2 44 Jake McCabe D U. Of Wisconsin (WCHA) 6′ 0″ 192
3 73 Justin Kea C Saginaw (OHL) 6′ 3″ 212
5 133 Logan Nelson C Victoria (WHL) 6′ 1″ 180
6 163 Linus Ullmark G Modo Jr (Swe) 6′ 3″ 198
7 193 Brady Austin D Belleville (OHL) 6′ 3″ 234
7 204 Judo Peterson C/RW Duluth Marshall HS (MN) 5’11” 194
2011 Draft
1 16 Joel Armia RW Ässät (FIN) 6′ 2″ 183
3 77 Daniel Catenacci C Sault Ste. Marie  (OHL) 5’10” 180
4 107 Colin Jacobs C Seattle (WHL) 6′ 2″ 190
5 137 Alex Lepkowski D Barrie (OHL) 6′ 3″ 215
6 167 Nathan Lieuwen G Kootenay (WHL) 6′ 5″ 185
7 197 Brad Navin C Waupaca HS (WI) 6′ 2″ 183
2010 Draft
1 23 Mark Pysyk D Edmonton (WHL) 6′ 1″ 180
3 68 Jerome Gauthier-Leduc D Rouyn-Noranda 6′ 1″ 176
3 75 Kevin Sundher C Chilliwack 6′ 0″ 192
3 83 Matt MacKenzie D Calgary 6′ 1″ 191
4 98 Steven Shipley C OWEN SOUND 6′ 2″ 205
5 143 Gregg Sutch RW Mississauga St. Michael’s 6′ 2″ 193
6 173 Cedrick Henley LW Val D’or 6′ 5″ 195
7 203 Christian Isackson F St. Thomas 6′ 0″ 174
7 208 Riley Boychuk LW Portland 6′ 4″ 210
Player GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
Cody Hodgson 72 20 24 44 -26 20 9 0 0 182 11
Tyler Ennis 80 21 22 43 -25 42 6 0 0 210 10
Drew Stafford 70 16 18 34 -19 39 2 1 1 185 8.6
Christian Ehrhoff 79 6 27 33 -27 38 1 1 2 161 3.7
Matt Moulson 44 11 18 29 -8 20 3 0 2 105 10.5
Tyler Myers 62 9 13 22 -26 58 3 0 0 99 9.1
Zemgus Girgensons 70 8 14 22 -6 14 0 1 1 115 7
Steve Ott 59 9 11 20 -26 55 6 0 1 99 9.1
Marcus Foligno 74 7 12 19 -17 82 0 1 3 79 8.9
Jamie Mcbain 69 6 11 17 -13 14 2 0 0 98 6.1
Ville Leino 58 0 15 15 -16 10 0 0 0 38 0
Brian Flynn 79 6 7 13 -10 14 0 1 0 102 5.9
Matt D’Agostini 49 5 6 11 -14 22 2 0 2 99 5.1
Thomas Vanek 13 4 5 9 -5 4 1 0 0 50 8
Mike Weber 68 1 8 9 -29 73 0 0 0 47 2.1
Henrik Tallinder 64 2 6 8 -21 34 0 0 0 40 5
Mark Pysyk 44 1 6 7 -11 16 0 0 1 51 2
Matt Ellis 50 4 2 6 -6 4 0 0 0 70 5.7
Cory Conacher 19 3 3 6 -7 16 1 0 1 27 11.1
Cody Mccormick 29 1 4 5 -8 45 0 0 0 20 5
Johan Larsson 28 0 4 4 0 19 0 0 0 21 0
Rasmus Ristolainen 34 2 2 4 -15 6 0 0 0 52 3.8
Mikhail Grigorenko 18 2 1 3 -3 2 0 0 0 20 10
Alexander Sulzer 25 0 2 2 -3 8 0 0 0 21 0
Linus Omark 13 0 2 2 -5 6 0 0 0 10 0
Philip Varone 9 1 1 2 -3 4 0 0 0 15 6.7
Zenon Konopka 23 0 1 1 -4 33 0 0 0 6 0
Kevin Porter 12 0 1 1 -5 2 0 0 0 3 0
Torrey Mitchell 9 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 9 11.1
John Scott 56 1 0 1 -12 125 0 0 0 16 6.3
Corey Tropp 9 0 1 1 -8 0 0 0 0 7 0
Luke Adam 12 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 16 6.3
Nicolas Deslauriers 17 1 0 1 -10 18 0 0 0 30 3.3
Jake Mccabe 7 0 1 1 -3 15 0 0 0 1 0
Chad Ruhwedel 21 0 1 1 -3 2 0 0 0 35 0
Nikita Zadorov 7 1 0 1 -4 4 0 0 0 4 25
Patrick Kaleta 5 0 0 0 -1 5 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Stewart 5 0 0 0 -2 6 0 0 0 3 0
Brayden Mcnabb 12 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 0 10 0
Goalie GPI GS MIN GAA W L OT SO SA GA SV%
Ryan Miller 40 40 2384 2.72 15 22 3 0 1411 108 0.923
Jhonas Enroth 28 26 1574 2.82 4 17 5 0 834 74 0.911
Matt Hackett 8 8 426 3.1 1 6 1 0 239 22 0.908
Nathan Lieuwen 7 5 363 2.98 1 4 0 0 191 18 0.906
Michal Neuvirth 2 2 117 2.56 0 2 0 0 98 5 0.949
Connor Knapp 2 1 77 3.12 0 0 1 0 32 4 0.875

Buffalo Sabres 2013-2014 cumulative 5v5 close FF

Buffalo Sabres 2013-2014 game-by-game 5v5 close FF

Buffalo Sabres 2013-2014 rolling 10-game 5v5 close FF

Buffalo Sabres 2013-2014 player usage