BUFFALO — This October the cold, brisk air will surround HSBC Arena. The 2009-10 Buffalo Sabres will be on the ice in front of their typical sold-out crowd. All 18,690 will be in their seats while viewers across Western New York and beyond will be tuning in to Rick Jeanneret. The whistle will blow, the puck will drop and Sabres hockey will begin again!
But not yet.
We are only half way into summer and free agency is underway. General manager Darcy Regier has some work to do and some moves to make. Even now Sabres fans should definitely be excited about the team this upcoming season as there is plenty of young talent on the current roster that will try to rebound from a disappointing campaign in 2008-2009. Leading the charge up top will be Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek. The three of them combined for nearly 200 points this past season. Pominville and Roy played in all 82 games while Vanek had to sit out for a while with a broken jaw.
With the new NHL schedule going into play for the second year, Buffalo will have to adjust in order to compete with the Western Conference teams. The Sabres went 9-8 against Western Conference opponents last season. There are two completely different styles of play between the East and West. The speedy forwards in the East may not be able to get by the tough, physical defense of the West. This is why the Sabres need to remove Andrew Peters from the lineup. Although he may be somewhat of a physical force (when he does play), he rarely contributes anything on offense. It looks as if Patrick Kaleta will be taking over his spot on the roster. With other players such as Adam Mair, Craig Rivet and Paul Gaustad, Buffalo as a team could become a much stronger physical force.
The Sabres also need to acquire a couple more players. All of the other teams in the northeast division have made significant improvements. With a team that has come in 10th place in each of the last two year’s, Darcy Regier needs to make some kind of move. The Sabres do have a relatively young group of guys who did gain a lot of experience last season as well. Fans may even get a chance to see Tyler Myers make his NHL debut this year. The 6 foot 7 defenseman was selected by the Sabres in the first round of the 2008 entry draft. Look for him to arrive in the early parts of the season.
Returning for his 13th season behind the Sabres bench, coach Lindy Ruff will try to put Buffalo back into the playoffs this year. He is currently the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and is the all-time winning-est coach in Sabres’ history. Ruff has established himself as one of the league’s top coaches, and Buffalo fans know how well of a job he has done. With Lindy behind the bench, you can expect good things to happen this year no matter what acquisitions are made this summer.