The Sabres can no longer make the playoffs, and have one more meaningless game. In the short term, I was ticked about it last night, but today, not so much. It was a very difficult season in many ways, with injuries, underachievement, and media sniping. The highs were really high, and the lows were rock-bottom. We saw veterans and prospects leave (Gaustad, Gragnani, Kassian) and got a few new contributors (Hodgson, Sulzer).
How do I feel about this season? I’m disappointed that it won’t be going on to the playoffs, for sure. There is talent here – and I think the deadline improved that overall – but injuries and some questionable play overrode that. Next year’s roster won’t be that different, barring trades, as there are already 20 players under contract. Hecht, Boyes, and the surprising Sulzer are UFAs, with TJ Brennan, Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta as RFAs. I can’t imagine either Hecht or Boyes being back. Sulzer is interesting, though. I’d love to keep him, as he showed some decent skills and kind of took that 6/7 D spot from Weber. Ennis is a no-brainer, and I imagine Kaleta gets a deal. That’s 13 forwards, including Marcus Foligno and Corey Tropp. If Brennan and McNabb start with Rochester, that leaves Regehr, Ehrhoff, Myers, Leopold, Sekera, and Weber as the D pending something with Sulzer. Of course, Miller/Enroth in the net.
Do I think that’s where we end up? I do not. The Pegula era Sabres have already shown they are willing to deal guys to get guys, and we have parts and pieces other teams would covet. July 1 is going to be interesting. Buffalo will be a player again, a destination for players who hopefully see the improvements and potential here.
I might post about the draft, and July 1, but expect this space to be fairly quiet in the offseason. I’m planning on blog maintenance, such as trying different themes, stuff like that. Might post up about the playoffs if the mood strikes, too. I’ll still be on Twitter, and please check out my non-hockey gadget/movie/TV/book talk at Honk if you Love Justice.