Apr 19, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston on the bench during the game against the New York Rangers at the First Niagara Center. Rangers beat the Sabres 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Early Offseason Predictions For the Buffalo Sabres

Just hours ago, it was announced the Ron Rolston would return as the head coach for the Buffalo Sabres. This was the first major decision that had to be made in what will be an eventful offseason. With the NHL entry draft, and free agency vastly approaching, the offseason is just beginning for the Buffalo Sabres.

Whether you are talking about UFAs, RFAs, or trades, there will be a lot of speculation over the next few months with what the Buffalo Sabres will do, and here are some early predictions.

Since the Buffalo Sabres have multiple first round picks for the second year in a row, I believe this is the year that Darcy pulls the trigger and moves up in the draft. With the 8th overall pick, as well as Minnesota’s first rounder, the Sabres have many assets to trade away. I believe Darcy will try to trade up into the top three picks. Nathan MacKinnon, one of the top prospects, would be the ideal fit for the Sabres. MacKinnon, often compared to John Tavares, will be selected within the first three picks, and I anticipate Regier will do everything in his power to draft MacKinnon. If Buffalo could add a player like MacKinnon, their abundance of young talent would be through the roof, and one could only imagine how good the Sabres would be in the coming years.

With free agency starting shortly after the draft, management will have to think fast in order to effectively fill the needs of the team. A perfect fit for a young Sabres team would be forward Vinny Prospal. Although Prospal is 38 and nearing the end of his career, he plays with fire, and would add some much needed leadership. Prospal has quietly put up 765 career points in over 1100 NHL games. With a rather weak class of free agents, Vinny Prospal would thrive as the leader of an up and coming team.

Another potential free agent target could be forward David Clarkson. I expect the Devils will try to resign the gritty forward; however, if they are unable to, I would love to see Darcy take a shot at Clarkson. The veteran forward is one of the league’s best agitators, with a scoring touch as well. Imagine Steve Ott and David Clarkson on the same line…that’s enough to give the opposing team nightmares. The price may be high for Clarkson, but he will be worth every penny.

With some young players ready to make the jump to the NHL, and potential UFAs coming in, the Sabres will need to trade away a few players. In my opinion Tyler Ennis must be moved. Most fans would disagree with me here, but past Stanley Cup champions have shown, you win with size. There is no doubt that Ennis is a wizard with the puck, but he just doesn’t win enough battles. He gets knocked off the puck easily, and is below average in his defensive play. Ennis is still young, and I do believe there is a value for the talented forward, but I just don’t see him being part of the Sabres future plans.

The offseason has just begun, and the fun is just getting started. An offseason filled with excitement and anticipation, should be one Sabres fans won’t soon forget. Lots of speculation is being made, and we can do nothing but hope the Sabres can add the right pieces and move forward with Regier as the GM.

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