Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010-2011 Buffalo Sabres Preview

The Buffalo Sabres
A little sweet and a little spicy.

What the best goaltender in the world looks like.

Previous Year's Team Stats

45 wins, 27 losses, 10 OTL, 100 points, 11th overall in the league

Team Analysis

The Buffalo Sabres are entering this season after a surprisingly good 2009-2010 campaign. The Sabres boast perhaps the best goaltender in the world, the emergence of a 6-7 number one defense, and an offense that's better than it looks on paper. However the Sabres have lost two top-four defensemen, faced a summer of questionable internal politics, and a number of Buffalo's players were considered to over-achieve by the media last season. The question will be whether or not Buffalo's key players players can repeat their success and prove they weren't playing above their heads last season.

The Sabres offense is lead by walking casualty Tim Connolly who managed to play 73 games and score a career high 65 points last season. Connolly is one of the more talented play-makers in the NHL and has been endowed with some of the softest hands in the league. However he remains a high risk fantasy option because of his injury woes. Behind Connolly is work horse and under-appreciated center Derek Roy. Roy is one of the best two way centers in the game and will carry a top six line in Buffalo next season. Complimenting the first line will be talented sniper Thomas Vanek. Vanek had a disappointing season by his standards last year due to plaguing injuries. Look for Vanek to be a potentially sneaky steal in your middle rounds this year as he's just hitting his prime and is entering the season healthy. Opposite Vanek will be consistent scorer Jason Pominville who quietly scores 60 points every season. Jochen Hecht looks to be Buffalo's tool-box player again this season and will once again get time on both special units and contribute a point every other game. The Sabres look to have another young player break out this season with young winger Tyler Ennis expected to get a full season with the big club. Ennis is quietly one of the more promising young players in the league, scoring nine points in his ten game debut last season. Look for Ennis to become a staple in the Sabres top six this season. Offensive winger Drew Stafford has largely been pushed out of a job in Buffalo amid his name eternally in the headlines of Sabres trade rumors but will look to add offensive pop wherever he slots in. Rounding out this offensive core of the Sabres is a dependable group of grinders led by NHL vet Mike Grier, young Cody McCormick, tough defensive center Paul Gaustad, notorious villian Patrick Kaleta and recently acquired Rob Neidermayer. Young prospect Nathan Gerbe will also look to get time in Buffalo this season as an injury call-up. 

The Sabres back-end was greatly boosted last season with the emergence of Calder Trophy winning defenseman Tyler Myers. Myers exploded into the league with a 48 point campaign last season while displaying a very competent defensive game. If Myers can maintain his momentum from last season, he is the very definition of elite. However the Sabres lost two minute eating defensemen in Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman to free agency this off-season. The Sabres hope to cushion these losses with the smart money signings of talented top four defenseman Jordan Leopold and dependable defensive defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. Look for Leopold to get significant minutes on the Sabres power-play and for Morrisonn to be the de facto shutdown man in Buffalo this season. The Sabres also hope that gritty defenseman Steve Montador's career year last season wasn't a fluke, and that Montador can improve on his previous 23 point campaign. Long time NHL veteran Craig Rivet will also look to contribute to Buffalo's defensive efforts this year despite entering the season with some injury concerns. The sixth defenseman will be a toss up between Chris Butler who's coming off an impressive 21 point sophomore campaign and offensive defenseman Andrej Sekera. Look for Butler to solidify himself in the Sabres top four by the end of the season. 

The Buffalo Sabres are blessed to have arguably the best goalie in the world tending their net. Ryan Miller absolutely defined himself as an elite goalie last season after kicking around annual top ten. Miller who posted 41 wins with a 2.22 GAA and a .929 Sv% took home the Vezina trophy for his efforts. Miller was also my pick for the Hart trophy last year. Look for Miller to repeat his previous success with the defensive core the Sabres have assembled and no added pressure of backstopping the national team this season. Patrick Lalime will be the back-up in Buffalo next season. Lalime's career has been akin to a train wreck in recent years and should hold absolutely no value to fantasy owners. However, I hear Lalime is a nice guy.

Team Trending

The loss of big minute defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman is going to hurt the on-ice talent level of the Sabres this season. It's also pretty lofty to expect Buffalo's defense to play as well as it did last season. However the Sabres are entering this season largely healthy with the same talented group that won the NorthEast division last season and arguably the best player in the league. Look for the Sabres to battle with the Bruins for the NorthEast Division title this season and to come in anywhere from 8th to 12th in the league. 

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up




Player Projections


Thomas Vanek - 38 G/30 A 68 P

Derek Roy - 30 G/40 A 70 P 
Jason Pominville - 25 G/40 A 65 P

Tyler Ennis - 20 G/30 A 50 P
Tim Connolly - 16 G/44 A 60 P
Drew Stafford - 20 G/22 A 42 P

Jochen Hecht - 20 G/20 A 40 P
Rob Neidermayer - 10 G/13 A 23 P
Mike Grier - 12 G/13 A 25 P

Cody McCormick - 2 G/4 A 6 P
Paul Gaustard - 10 G/10 A 20 P
Patrick Kaleta - 12 G/8 A 20 P


Tyler Myers - 15 G/40 A 55 P 

Jordan Leopold - 7 G/18 A 25 P
Chris Butler - 3 G/25 A 28 P
Steve Montador - 3 G/14 A 17 P
Shaone Morrisonn - 2 G/13 A 15 P
Craig Rivet - 0 G/10 A 10 P


Ryan Miller - 43-18-6 | 2.34 GAA | .927 Sv%
Patrick Lalime - 3-7-5 | 2.95 GAA | .903 Sv%

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