The Buffalo Sabres needed a facelift at the 2010 NHL Draft. Once a high-flying scoring machine, the Sabres never adequately addressed the departures of co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere in 2007. With a potential franchise defenseman in Tyler Myers and the emergence of Ryan Miller as an elite goaltender, the Sabres nevertheless decided that they needed to re-tool from the back end out. It was a strange move, given that the team’s 207 goals allowed in 2009-10 season were the fewest in seven years—a big reason why they managed to capture a division title after failing to make the playoffs in the two previous seasons. Read more»
The Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, made their return to the Spengler Cup this winter after placing third in 1996. However, the Amerks were outmatched in the prestigious tournament this time around, allowing 15 goals and losing all three of their games. Participating in the tournament meant taking a 12-day break from AHL play, but three extra games' worth of experience can be beneficial to a young team.
Currently amid a full-scale rebuild, the Buffalo Sabres have 43 prospects in their system, including seven first-round picks, giving them both quantity and quality at every position. The Sabres also have many prospects already contributing at the NHL level, including forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Johan Larsson.
The Buffalo Sabres' AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the NHL lockout. Though Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb, and T.J. Brennan have, for the most part, been pillars for head coach Ron Rolston, the Amerks are currently sitting just out of playoff position. Hurting the Amerks is overall consistency and a lack of quality depth up front.
The Buffalo Sabres have traditionally taken the long and steady approach to developing their projects, giving their prospects as much time as needed to develop into an NHL player. That patience has paid off, with many players drafted in the past five years making contributions at the NHL level last year, and are ready to this year, if or when the NHL lockout ends. Corey Tropp, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb, Marcus Foligno, and a few others are among those who have proven that they can play in the NHL.