Former Sabre Chris Drury has been elected to the United States Hockey...
Throughout the past season, many different storylines have come and gone. With the Buffalo Sabres finding themselves heading into another offseason without a playoff appearance, many of the season-long storylines gain more importance.
With this offseason slated to be very important for the future of the Sabres organization, the front office should expect to see every move greatly broken down.
Many fans have spoken their minds on the different topics, which is no surprise. There are numerous problems within the Sabres organization that are slated to be worked on.
Now, these following storylines are not everything that will be watched for but they are some of the hot topics among Sabres fans.
Will Ryan Miller and/or Thomas Vanek be traded?
Throughout the final month of the NHL season, this storyline became more of a when, not if situation. Ryan Miller’s name has been passed around the NHL as someone who will not be with this franchise come training camp. Miller could quickly become a hot commodity for a franchise on the doorstep of the Stanley Cup. Thomas Vanek is a proven goal scorer who has been good, even when the Sabres aren’t good. Vanek could easily step in with another franchise and be that final piece to the puzzle. Not only are both players still excellently talented, they’re full of value for Buffalo. A trade would have the potential to greatly speed up the Sabres’ current rebuilding process.
How Will Darcy Regier re-shape this team?
This storyline was originally whether or not Darcy Regier would be employed by the Sabres next season. Following the end-of-the-season press conference, Regier will remain the General Manager, so that storyline has been solved. During the aforementioned press conference, Regier stated he had begun the process of building the Sabres into a Stanley Cup winning franchise. When that sentence was echoed, Sabres fans all wondered how that would be possible. Will Regier aggressively sign younger free agents? Will he trade away future prospects for young, talented players? Only time will tell what Regier does, but it is clear that the Sabres’ organization is 100% behind the Darcy Regier regime.
Will Ron Rolston be named the full-time head coach?
Darcy Regier danced around the question of Ron Rolston’s interim tag being removed this offseason but judging by how Regier responded, Rolston might get a shot due to his penchant for developing players. A possibility would be to have an NHL-level development led by Rolston. This could be the most-effective way for Buffalo to go for the next few seasons, but the team could also go in a different direction. It seems as if the rebuilding decision determines whether or not Ron Rolston will be the Sabres head coach next season.
Since the amnesty buyouts were introduced out of the lockout, Sabres fans have attached different names to the two buyouts allotted to the franchise. The most popular name has been Ville Leino. Next season will be year 2 of 5 at $4.5 million for a player who is supposed to be in the Sabres’ top-six. Leino played sparingly this season, due to hip and lung injuries, but he was a factor for the Sabres in his 8 games played (2 goals, 4 assists in 8 games). Darcy Regier revealed that Leino would undergo a “hip procedure,” so Leino may find himself ineligible to be bought out. Either way, the Sabres management seems as if they’ll let Leino heal and give him one full season to prove himself before looking into a buyout.
The second player that has had the most chatter is Drew Stafford. It is no secret, Stafford struggled this season. Stafford’s shot percentage dipped for the second-straight season, to 5.0% (6 goals on 121 shots), and he recorded career-lows in goals, assists and points while recording a minus on-ice rating (-16) for the first time in his seven-year career. His numbers look very ugly, but an amnesty buyout might not be the right answer for Stafford. Teams have shown interest through the trade market, so the most sense for Buffalo would be to find the best deal and get some value for Drew Stafford while removing the remaining 2 yrs./$8 million remaining.