If you’re a die-hard Sabres’ fan, the looming offseason, filled with so many uncertainties, has you feeling one of two ways: you are either,
1. excited for change and looking forward to watching a young, athletic squad tear it up in the First Niagara Center; or
2. nervously stock-piling weapons and canned goods in the make-shift fallout shelter that you and your weird cousin built in your basement/backyard/storage shed.
Actually, number two is more for Preppers’ fans, but I could see it fitting some of our readers, too! The point I’m trying to make here is that there are a lot of unanswered questions that have to be addressed during the offseason, not the least of which is the subject of today’s poll: since it’s only the most important position in all of hockey, who will be handed the role of Buffalo’s starting goaltender for the 2013-2014 NHL season?
As everyone knows, Ryan Miller put his condominium in Elmwood Village up for sale at the end of this past year’s regular season, and everyone who was in attendance at the First Niagara Center for the Sabres’ final game this year – which just so happened to be Miller’s 500th game as a member of the Buffalo Sabres – had to feel like we were saying goodbye to the second-best goalie to suit up for the blue and gold. Is it absolutely certain that Miller will not return next year? Nothing is ever certain . . . except this. I cannot imagine that Miller wants to spearhead another rebuild, so in my opinion, the probability of him playing for the Sabres next year is, sadly, at zero percent.
A possible heir to Miller’s throne? Jhonas Enroth. Yes, the same man who EVERYONE was afraid to watch early last season is an actual, legitimate contender for the Sabres’ number one goalie spot. Whatever funk Enroth allowed himself to fall into, he climbed out of it midway through last season, and from that point on the man was lights out. He carried his stellar play over to the IIHF World Championships, where he propelled Sweden to the gold medal by going 6-1, with a GAA of 1.15 and a save percentage of .956. Enroth was named the best goalie of the tournament, and has to be feeling pretty confident that he has earned the right to inherit the role of the franchise’s number one netminder right about now. Heck, he even wears number one! How much more symbolism do you want?
Other options for Buffalo include Matt Hackett, who the Sabres acquired from Minnesota in the Jason Pominville trade and who has had a pretty successful career in the minors, and the obvious attempt to try and package Miller and another player (perhaps Drew Stafford?) in a trade that would bring a proven number one goalie into Buffalo – Mike Smith? Jaroslav Halak? I’m inclined to think that the Sabres snagged Hackett for a reason – to back up Enroth during the season. Of course, I’ve been wrong before . . . lots and lots of times! So tell us here at Sabre Noise – who do YOU think will be Buffalo’s next number one net minder?