Based on last year’s subpar season, it would be easy to assume that the Sabres will have another below average one. Not to mention, very minor off season acquisitions. With having such a young team, you would think the Sabres are in for another long season, but I will tell you why the Buffalo Sabres may not be as bad as you think.
When a line is a combined minus 34, that is totally unacceptable. Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno all must have bounce back seasons. If this line can live up to the hype they brought at the end of the 2011-12 season, this will make for a solid 2nd-3rd line. Stafford is the key. He must regain his scoring touch and live up to his 4 million dollar salary. Another forward who must have a big season is Ville Leino. Leino has been hampered by injuries during his short stint with the Sabres. He showed promise in his 8 games last season, as he recorded 6 points. If Leino can continue his pace from last year, he makes for a solid top 6 forward. In particular, if these four forwards turn out to have solid seasons, this will lift the Sabres out of the basement of the East.
Henrik Tallinder was brought back to Buffalo for one simple reason; to rejuvenate the career of Tyler Myers. If this D pairing can even come close to how they played when Myers was a rookie, this will be huge for the Sabres. Over the last few seasons, Myers has been a wreck and appears lost in every aspect of the game. Expect Tallinder to guide and help Myers to save his career and have a nice bounce back season. If this can occur, it will benefit the Sabres greatly, and definitely improve their spot in the standings.
The goaltending has been short of great for the Sabres over the past few seasons. Since the 2010 Olympics, Ryan Miller has been nothing more than average. Regardless of whom the starter is, Buffalo must get consistent play from this position. Miller and Enroth, in my opinion, will most likely split time until one goalie pulls ahead of the other, or Miller gets traded. Jhonas Enroth is in the prime of his career and ready to start. The time is now for Enroth, and with consistent play in net, I don’t see why the Sabres can’t contend for a playoff spot.
There are players at every position that need to have comeback seasons in order for the Sabres to succeed. If the players named above can live up to their contracts, and not to mention get consistent goaltending, I have every reason to believe that the Sabres can at least compete for one of the final playoff spots.