This is the first article of a five-part series, chronicling the good and bad of the past Buffalo Sabres’ season. Our writers at Sabres Hockey Central take a look back.
What was the biggest disappointment of the 2013-14 Sabres’ season?
Justin Banker – It would be incredibly easy to go with Ville Leino, however I’d be lying if I said I had any expectation of him performing this season given what he had done since coming to Buffalo. That being said, Jamie McBain would be one of the larger disappointments. He had flashes of brilliance early on in the season but fell off with production and consistently found himself in the wrong position defensively. Couple that with his uncanny ability to take out Sabres goaltenders and he has definitely been disappointing to say the least.
Brayton Wilson – In a year where the Sabres looked for more improvement from Ville Leino, he had nothing to give. Signed to a lucrative contract in 2011, Leino was expected to be a top forward for the Sabres to contribute on both sides of the ice. In the end, Leino found himself in and out of the lineup on numerous occasions. Leino finished the year with 15 assists in 58 games, but no goals to account for. Ted Nolan was also not impressed with Leino’s work ethic and the way he conducted himself in practice. Many in Buffalo believe that the Ville Leino era in Buffalo is over.
Adam Lindsay – The obvious answer here would be Ville Leino, but I digress. I think here you could pick any one on the roster with the exception of the 3 guys above, but I will go with Marcus Foligno. At this point I would have thought the pieces would be coming together. He was given all the opportunities this season, and did not take advantage. In his defense, line juggling, injuries, and trades didn’t help. These obstacles should not prevent a player from improvement completely, and I felt that Marcus could have shown more this season. The defining moment for me with this decision, was when he was slew footed by Kevin Quincy against Detroit. He got up and complained to the ref, instead of getting up and taking care of business. That’s what I want from him. Take care of business on the ice. Not to complain to the ref.
Kevin Freiheit – The obvious answer is Ville Leino, who was paid $4.5 million to score zero goals and 15 assists in 58 games. However, I’m going to say that Marcus Foligno was my biggest disappointment. I wasn’t expecting him to go out and reach 25 to 30 goals, but I thought he would get close to 20. After putting up 18 points in the 47 games he played a year ago, he only put up 19 this year, in 74 games. It’s tough to get points with the team that he’s on, but I expected much more from him, and often times he was unnoticed on the ice.
Chris Downey – This is an easy pick. Ville Leino hasn’t done anything productive this year, gaining 15 assists and a minus 16. Those numbers are for a sloppy defenseman in this league, not someone who is expected to be a productive winger. Everyone is expecting that Leino will be bought out and I agree, let’s spend money elsewhere.
Jeff Pawlak – Even if Leino had broken that goose egg, heck, if he had broken it twice or even three times, this honor would still belong to him. Move away from that ugly “0” you see in place of his goal total, and you’ll see an even uglier number for his shots this season- 38. Leino mustered just 38 shots on net in his 58 games played this season. He couldn’t even hit the opposing goaltender, never mind the net, in many of his appearances.
Ryan Wolfe – For me, the biggest disappointment of this past season would be Mike Weber. Coming off a strong season in the 2012-13 campaign, Weber signed a 3 year/5 million dollar deal entering this season. Expectations were sky high, as many people (including Weber) expected a big step up from a solid 5/6 defender to a potential top-four defenseman. Unfortunately, things would not pan out as expected. 9 points in 68 games, while boasting a team-low -29 rating. Weber went from a shoe-in, to the outside looking in. With the current defensive prospects, coupled with the players currently on Buffalo’s blue line, time could be up for Weber in Buffalo.