Defensive Battle

With just two days to go until camp officially opens for the Buffalo Sabres, the defensive outlook position looks to be where the most battles for a roster spot will take place.  Heres a quick look at the Sabres defensive players and prosepcts, and who might get themselves a line up spot on opening night, and who might be making the trip to Portland. 

Its not hard to say that Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn are going to be in the lineup on opening night, brought into fill the gaps left by Tallinder and Lydman leaving, its nice to see some fresh faces on the blue line. 

Steve Montador and Tyler Myers are back in the lineup again, Montador was a stable last year in the lineup, despite the fact that I was fairly down on him coming to town in the first place.  I wouldn’t say he stood out last year (for the most part), but his play was well enough to warrant another shot at it.  Tyler Myers is well, the reigning Calder winner, and we all keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t fall into a sophmore slump.  He had something to prove last year, lets hope the kid gets better, instead of getting comfortable and complacent. 

Despite having a relatively sluggish season, Craig Rivet is back, and is still listed on the teams website as the Captain.  Lindy Ruff was not willing to bench, nor remove the C from him during last season, lets see if any on ice leadership changes are made headed into or out of camp. 

That leaves one spot in the top six, and the seventh devensemen spot open for battle.  Carry overs from last season, Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler are in camp looking for retribution for seasons that didn’t really pan out.  Sekera had a strong Olympic showing which never translated into his NHL game upon return from the games.  Chris Butler seemed not to have his head in the game for much of the time he spent in a Buffalo uniform. 

Also sitting on the outside looking in at one of those two prime defensemen spots are Mike Weber and Marc Andre Gragnani.  According to the Buffalo News, Weber has to clear waivers in order to be demoted to Portland, I am not sure about Gragnani.  Given that, I think with a strong camp, Weber could find himself in that seventh spot. 

I wasn’t thrilled with Butler, and I think Sekera could rebound the easiest of the two.  I’d be much more upset if Weber left due to waivers than Butler. 

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Tags: Craig Rivet Defense Jordan Leopold Marc-andre Gragnani Mike Weber Shaone Morrisson

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  • thisnameisshort

    I wish they could’ve found a way to move Sekera and Butler last year. Management had to have known they weren’t bringing back Tallinder and Lydman considering how fast those two were out of here, so they planned plenty in advance to sign two replacements. Which I think is a good move; Darcy is always criticized for betting on his prospects rather than signing a veteran in their prime, and he changed that up this offseason by bringing in two solid, proven D men.

    That being said, Weber’s not going to get any better in the AHL than he already is. And Gragnani could boost some offensive ability and (God forbid!) our power play.

    At this point, I’m definitely looking to the two of them over Butler and Sekera. Sorry, but Chris Butler has had two seasons and it just seems like he’s regressed back to AHL standards. And Sekera? I prayed I’d never see Dimitri Kalinin on this hockey team again and Sekera looks more and more like him every time he touches the puck.

    Morrisonn hits more than either Tallinder and Lydman ever did (163 hits vs 63 and 126 respectively) and Leopold is looking for a bounce back impact year, you’re looking at a defense that may not carry the puck as well, may let in a couple more goals, but will be absolutely damaging to other teams. That has been our weakness for several seasons – our D has outright refused to hit people. Well, now with a healthy Rivet, Morissonn, Montador, and Myers with a year under his belt, they can add a hit-loving Weber and other teams are going to hate crossing that blue line.

    • Jim Bateman

      Love the insight! I agree with you here. Neither Butler nor Sekera add much to the defensive corps. I think it may be risky playing 2 rookies on the blue line, but I think it is a risk that will be quite beneficial. I think maybe dropping Butler back down the AHL might be good seeing as he still has a 2-way contract.

      I just don’t think Butler is an NHL caliber defenseman. Sekera is another one that I can’t figure out. Just when I think he has some serious potential, he finds himself in the doghouse for inconsistent play.

      I love that the Sabres toughened up the D and if I had my guess, I think you’ll find Weber on the ice come regular season; however, I think Sekera will be the odd man out.