After the centers were announced on Wednesday, it’s time to get into the men who flank the pivots. The Sabres aren’t too deep at wing in the system, and they get a bit thinner heading into 2013/2014.
It’s time to decide who stays and who goes on the outside. Again, this is based on who’s in the system and doesn’t consider who the team may bring in via trade and/or free agency.
The underperforming power forward was nearly dealt at the trade deadline on April 3, but a deal couldn’t come to fruition. He will likely be dealt, or even bought out, come the NHL Draft. He was signed to a four-year, $16-million contract after producing 31 goals in the 2010-2011 season. Since then, Stafford has a combined 25 goals and has not lived up to the lofty contract he was given. It’s safe to assume his time in Buffalo is coming to an end after this season.
He was brought in to add toughness to the team, and that’s exactly what he did. He is a big, physical presence on the ice, but really isn’t worth the roster spot despite being well-liked in the locker. It was a one year experiment that comes to an end on April 26.
Ott has become a giant fan favorite in Buffalo, and has many clamoring for him to be the next Captain of the Sabres. He brings grit and toughness, passion, and skill to a team that needs all of the above. He has produced in every position he was put in with the Sabres and has truly stepped up as a leader of the youngest team in the NHL.
He has stated a few times that he wants to remain in Buffalo for a long time, and with 2013/2014 being the last season of his contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an extension signed before the next season begins.
Vanek will be the topic of a lot of trade talk in the summer due to also having one year left on his contract. That being said, he is Buffalo’s most dangerous scorer and its best forward. The team will sit down with him after July 1 (The day a team can begin negotiating a contract with a pending UFA) and convince him that he should stay in Buffalo for the rest of career and lock him up to another long term contract to be a leader on this team.
Leino gets a lot of flak for not living up to the 6-year, $24-million contract he signed with the team in the summer of 2011, and is often part of the discussion about who the team uses its amnesty buyout on. However, I’m a believer that he will become a very solid contributor to the team for the next four years. Although it was only for a handful of games this season, when Leino was on the ice he showed slick hands and strong puck possession skills that allowed the team to keep possessions alive. Give him a full season healthy with a new coach, and Leino could surprise a lot of people.
He a pest, a deviant, and a player than everyone outside of Buffalo seems to hate. And even though his point production isn’t where many, including him, wish it would be, there is no denying just what he means to his team.
He brings a physical and intimidating presence that has a knack for goading opponents into countless penalties. If the powerplay was better, that would actually help the team more often.
Like Kevin Porter, Flynn was a major surprise for the Sabres this season. He had 32 points (16+16) in 45 games with Rochester before being called up to the Sabres on March 1. In 22 games with Buffalo, Flynn has 10 points (5+5), and has been part of one of the most consistent and proficient lines on the team with Porter and, lately, Ott.
Flynn was signed to a two-year contract in March of 2012 and will become a RFA at season’s end, but has earned the right to a new contract as well as a spot of the roster next season.
A player who is loved by some fans and hated by others, Gerbe brings tenacity to the team in a big way. He’s always going hard no matter the situation, and is always looking to get better as a player. He’s not the scorer that many expected him to be after he won the AHL Rookie of the Year in 2009 after scoring 56 points (30+26) in 57 games with Buffalo’s affiliate at the time, Portland.
In 38 games this season, Gerbe has just 9 points which a large drop from the 31 he had two seasons ago and the 25 he had last year. He is a serviceable player that will be on the fourth line next year for the team.
Tropp was expected to be the first player called up when the team needed it in 2013, but he unfortunately suffered a torn ACL in his first game of the season with the Americans. He has returned earlier than expected to the Rochester lineup and will get valuable experience during the Amerks’ playoff run.
He will be a third/fourth line player in training camp next season and, provided he stays healthy, should have no issue making the opening night roster.
Since this is based on who is in the system and not factoring in potential trade acquisitions or free agent signings, Adam makes it on the fact alone that he has experience at the NHL level. He’s played in a few games in Buffalo this season, but is back with Rochester now.