Hey guys! This has been another busy week, but I wanted to pop in and post my predictions on what the lines are going to look like. This is totally opinion based, but I feel like it is a fair assessment.
1. Vanek Roy Pominville
I feel like this is an obvious line. They all need to be together. They’re the Sabres’ best players besides Ryan Miller and if they can find a way to all click I think they can be a very dominate line. Hopefully we can see Vanek reach 40 goals again this year because the team is desperate for some more offense.
2. Ennis Connolly Stafford
It kills me to put Stafford on the second line, but I don’t see a better option. The second line is going need some well needed bulk with Connolly and Ennis on the same line. It could be interesting seeing Ennis and Connolly dance around the ice. They’re both ultra-offensively minded and hopefully that leads to some entertaining hockey. Also, I’m still hoping Stafford will find that scoring touch that we were all promised when he was drafted.
3. Hecht Gaustad Grier
I’m sure many of you thought Niedermayer was going to play on the third line, but I think Gaustad has a little bit more of an upside. Although Gaustad didn’t have a great year last season, I do think he deserves to be on the 3rd line; however, he needs to find his toughness again because he played like a little girl last season. I expect Hecht to have another quiet, but ultimately pleasant season again and as for Grier expect the hardworking winger to still be a hardworking winger.
4.McCormick Niedermayer Kaleta
Now I want you to remember, Lindy Ruff doesn’t use 4th lines like other teams. Ruff uses his 4th line more than probably most teams. I expect McCormick to play the least out of the three and Niedermayer the most. You may see Niedermayer stepping in anywhere on all three lines and on the penalty kill. As for Kaleta, expect him to be used when the Sabres are sleeping and need a spark.
I left out 2 fringe players and McCormick could possibly included in that, but the other two are Nathan Gerbe and Zack Kassian. After hearing reports from training camp, I think Kassian has a legitimate chance of making the roster. As for Gerbe, I am a bit hesitant. Gerbe has nice offensive skill, but placing him on a 3rd of 4th line just shadows his skill; however, I don’t think he is ready to be a top 6 forward. McCormick is not a lock on this team, but he fits the scheme a bit better; however he may find himself playing out of position.
Ultimately this is my personal opinion. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lines do turn out this way. Look out in the next couple of days for when I tackle the chess game that is the defense line up.