#10 – Maxim Afinogenov
Max was originally the 69th overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, and began his Sabres career in 1999-2000, netting 34 points in 65 games for the Sabres. Afinogenov spent 9 love/hate seasons with the Sabres, ending in 2009. He has been playing in the KHL since 2010.
Afinogenov often amazed fans with his speed, dazzled them with nifty puck-handling skills, and left them frustrated during long stretches of goal-less droughts. Media and experts frequently labeled him as lazy, making Max an enigma. It was often felt that he had all the potential in the world, and just did not always give his best efforts.
What may have also hampered Afinogenov, was his Russian heritage. Max was following on the heels of fellow Russian Alexander Mogilny, whom had left the Sabres just a few seasons prior to Max joining the club. Mogilny was a bonafide superstar, and I believe some had similar expectations for Afinogenov.
In his best season, Afinogenov posted 73 points for the Sabres in 77 games in 2005-2006. Yet, he only further fueled frustrations when he only put up 8 points in 18 games, as the Sabres fell to the eventually Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes, in the Semi-Finals in 7 games.
Max did have a solid 361 points in 569 games for the Sabres, but so much more was expected. His final 3 seasons were injury-riddled, only adding to fan frustrations.
#9 – Craig Rivet
After spending 14 NHL seasons with San Jose and Montreal, defensemen Craig Rivet joined the Sabres for the 2008-2009 season.
Expectations were set fairly high immediately, as Rivet was named team captain before even skating in one game for the blue and gold. Rivet was brought in based on his leadership capabilities and veteran presence, which was fairly visible in his initial Sabres season. Beyond that, he slowly trailed off, becoming a non-factor in most games. Rivet was slowing down; he looked inconfident, and lost in many games. This came at a time when the club and fans were depending on him to bring stability to a team that severely lacked a leader after Danny Briere and Chris Drury left the Sabres in 2006.
In the 2011 season, Rivet was ultimately benched, then waived in February. It was a very unfortunate ending for a respectable player that spent most of his NHL being rock-solid and dependable.