Much like the goaltender position, the Sabres are not going to change much on the blue line. The most significant loss is going to be Jaroslav Spacek, a presence that will be sorely missed on the blue line.
There are a few players that are locks to make the opening roster. Craig Rivet will return, and will probably have the “C” stitched on his jersey again. That is to say if Ruff plans on making the captaincy a solid position again, or if he thinks a round robin game with the equipment staff would be better suited again. I for one like the veteran leadership that Rivet brings to the table. With Spacek gone, I would tend to believe that Rivet is going to see a significant amount of the ice time that Jaro used.
Tony Lydman and Hank Tallinder are back again, and I can only hope that if things are not going well one of them will be used as trade bait. The Sabres have some depth at the defense position, but don’t have too many veteran guys they can lean on. Moving one of these two guys should only be done if they Sabres can ensure there blue line won’t be too young. Regardless, the Sabres need these two guys to reform the shutdown pair that they once were in order to make the playoffs again.
Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler proved last year that they are ready for the big time. Both are solid defensemen that can handle the puck in the corners and not get pushed around.
Nathan Paetsch rounds out the top six blue liners, and gives the Sabres a lot of versatility. His ability to move up to the wings allows the Sabres to carry seven defensemen, and saves them a Portland call up. Now that the farm team is no longer a 45 minute ride away, having a player like Paetsch is more important.
The seventh defensemen, if the Sabres choose to carry one on the roster, could be a training camp battle. The Sabres igned tough guy Steve Montador to fill Spaceks shoes, but prospect Tyler Myers is making some noise in the wings wanting his turn to use his size on an NHL rink. At his listed 6 feet 8 inches, he would add a dimension to the Sabres defensive corps.
If Montador does get a spot on the blue line, Myers will join Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mike Weber as first in line for a Portland call-up, depending on who is playing well on the farm.
Tags: 2009 Andrej Sekara Buffalo Sabres Chris Butler Craig Rivet Defense Hank Tallinder Jaroslav Spacek Marc-andre Gragnani Mike Weber Nathan Paetsch Portland Pirates Rochester Americans Steve Montador Tony Lydman Training Camp Tyler Myers