When you take a look at the Buffalo Sabres blue line, you may find yourself asking the question, “who is on their way out”? Since the re-signing of Alexander Sulzer and the acquisition of Henrik Tallinder, the Sabres find themselves with a mix of veteran and young talent at the back end. With the start of training camp quickly approaching, management must make a decision on the future of the blue line, and move a body or two.
The Sabres top D-man, Christian Ehrhoff, will not be moved, that’s a given. Darcy Regier has stated many times that Ehrhoff is not going anywhere. What makes Ehrhoff an elite D-man is his ability to eat up minutes, and contribute both on the PP and PK. Ehrhoff has a cannon from the point and is also a great puck mover. Ehrhoff is one of the most versatile D-men in the whole NHL, and he will be the leader of the young defensive group.
Although it is not set in stone who will be Ehrhoff’s defensive partner, one would have to imagine it would be fellow German Alexander Sulzer. Sulzer is a solid veteran defensemen who can not only log minutes, but chip in offensively as well. He is the perfect partner for Ehrhoff, and will most likely be here to stay for the year. Coming off a serious knee injury, Sulzer will be a solid second D-man paired alongside Ehrhoff, and I imagine this pairing will be pretty dominant on the offensive side of the game.
The Sabres second pairing is very intriguing if you ask me. Former Calder winner Tyler Myers has been a wreck the past two seasons. Ever since signing his gigantic contract, he has been by far the Sabres worst defensemen, and a joke around the NHL. For the Sabres to have any kind of success, Myers must turn his game around. To help with this, Regier brought back Swedish defenseman Henrik Tallinder. Tallinder was Myers’ D partner during his superb rookie season, and will be able to have another positive influence on Myers. Although Tallinder is nearing the end of his career, he will be a major help with not only Myers, but the young talent on the blue line.
The rest of the defensive spots are up for grabs. You would have to imagine recently signed Mike Weber will have a spot on the roster. Weber is a defensively sound player, who loves to hit. Sabres fans love Weber due to the energy he brings to the team. He won’t be a big offensive weapon, but will be very reliable on the backend and kill penalties very effectively.
Jamie McBain who was acquired from the Hurricanes, should be a top six D-man with the Sabres. McBain is still relatively young with lots of offensive potential. It is yet to be seen who McBain will be paired with, but there is no reason why McBain shouldn’t crack the top six for the Sabres.
Mark Pysyk, Chad Ruhwedel, Brayden McNabb and Rasmus Ristolainen will all be fighting to make the final few roster spots. Out of all of these young defenseman, I would have to say that Marc Pysyk will get the nod. Pysyk played exceptionally well during the second part of last season, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him up full time with the blue and gold. Pysyk is a solid all around D-man, who will contribute in both parts of the game. He is also an excellent skater, which will help him at the NHL level.
As you can see, Buffalo has a packed blue line. The Sabres are in an obvious rebuilding stage, and it would make sense for Regier, to move a veteran Dman, to give a younger player an opportunity to prove himself at the NHL level. It is yet to be seen who will be moved, but with all this young talent on the blue line, a veteran must be moved to benefit the long term of this team.