Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

5 Buffalo Sabres With the Most to Prove Next Season

After another disappointing season in which the Buffalo Sabres failed to make the playoffs and a rebuild on the horizon times are changing in Buffalo. In large this season is going to be a testing period of sorts for many veteran Sabres’ players. Which players will pass the test and which ones will be shipped out is still to be determined, but here are 5 players who will want to bring their A-game next season.

Cody Hodgson

First things first, Hodgson and the Sabres still need to agree on a new contract that will make both sides happy. Whether Hodgson signs a long-term deal for big money or takes a shorter deal with less money, he’s going to have a lot to prove on the ice. If he demands big money he’ll have to prove that he’s worth the big contract he was rewarded or make the Sabres regret putting pen to paper. If he goes with the shorter contract, the minute he steps on the ice he’s playing for a longer more expensive contract and he’ll want to showcase his skills to other teams.

Next season will be a significant one for Hodgson’s career, he’ll want to hit the ice flying in October to help erase any doubts from his office issues in Vancouver and to prove he can be the Sabres number one centre.

Ryan Miller

It’s appearing more and more that Ryan Miller‘s days in Buffalo are numbered. While Darcy Regier didn’t deal the franchise goaltender in the offseason, expecting him to be around past the trade deadline is unlikely. Miller is entering the last year of his deal and has made it fairly clear that he isn’t going to be re-signing in Buffalo, and with Enroth ready to lay claim to the crease it’s time for Miller to move on.

Despite his numbers the last two seasons, Miller is still one of the top goaltenders in the league and it’s time for him to show everyone that again. With the Olympics right around the corner and wanting to get out of Buffalo, Miller will want to start the year off on fire to show everyone he’s worth the gamble.

Jhonas Enroth

Enroth’s game has really come into form recently. Once Ron Rolston rolled into Buffalo and gave Enroth some playing time he showed

that he has the potential to be a solid starting goaltender in the NHL. Will Enroth fill the hole that Miller leaves? Likely not, but he’ll do enough to keep the Sabres in the mix and that’s all you can ask.

This season, perhaps more than ever before, Enroth is going to get his fair share at the crease. With Miller likely leaving town and Enroth wanting to prove he can hold down the fort, we’ll see a lot more of the Swedish netminder between the pipes. While Miller is still in town and the crease is still his, Enroth is soon to be taking over. Enroth will need a strong start to the season so that the Sabres will feel comfortable losing Ryan Miller and putting their faith in Enroth.

Tyler Myers

Ah Tyler Myers, the Sabres former Calder Trophy winner who has turned into a pylon. It’s fair to say that Myers is not the same defenceman he was when he burst into the league and he’s no longer playing his type of defence. Myers put up just 8 points last season and has lost his reputation of being the top defenceman on the Sabres blue line.

There’s still plenty of time for Myers game to get back on track. Hopefully former defencive partner Henrik Tallinder and Myers will be able to spark chemistry and help Myers break out of his sophomore slump. If Myers doesn’t snap out of his funk soon, it may be time for the Sabres to buy him out or unload him on another team, but would anyone want a gentle giant who can’t produce?

Ville Leino

The old saying, if you can’t beat them, join them is something the Sabres took a little to literally when they acquired Leino. Leino played a large role in helping eliminate the Sabres from the post season in 2010, so the Sabres decided to put him in blue and gold. Only problem is they forgot his success was in large part due to his chemistry with linemates and that he doesn’t want to play centre. Due to injury Leino played in just 8 games last season, but looked good in those 8 games and showed fans what could be possible if he finds his game again.

If Leino can stay healthy this could finally be the year he shows everyone why he was acquired. With the emergence of Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko, Leino will be able to play on the wing where he’s most comfortable. So far Leino has been a major disappointment for the Sabres, it’s time for Leino to earn his money.

If these 5 players can step their game up next season a projected disappointing season could turn into a playoff run for the blue and gold.

Tags: 5 Players Buffalo Sabres Most To Prove NHL

  • Matt Nolan

    I think ennis is more fit for this list than miller while Ryan has a lot to prove ennis is at a make or break point

    • Matt Nolan

      Also mikhail grigorenko has more to prove than any sabre a dismal campaign could be fatal for the youngster

      • Caitlin Campbell

        I Didn’t put Grigorenko on the last because he’s still so young and hasn’t really had a fair crack in the NHL as of yet.

  • davidmuscalo

    I think Rolston has more to prove than any of the listed players. The reason I say this is that Ruff has had lots of talent in recent years pass through his hands without improving the team. Players like Torres, Leino, Myers, Stafford, Adam, and other too numerous mention. Some of these players have gone to other teams have had much greater success. It seems that Ruff’s “system” only works well with less creative players who have problems adapting to rapidly changing conditions in the heat of a game. Because they are trained to think defense, defense, defense they forget how to generate offense. That is why recent Ruff teams have been mediocre.

    If Rolston can handle his players in a more diplomatic and positive manner, the Sabres could improve rapidly and even make the playoffs this coming season. Ralston’s principal job will be to change the culture in the locker room and on the bench. He must instill a positive, winning attitude in his charges and convince them that they can prevail over any team they face through hard work, cooperation, mutual support and dedication.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Yup Rolston definetely needs to prove what he can do with skilled young players. Ruff let a lot of talent go wasted, hopefully Rolston doesn’t follow suit. I like Rolston because of his loyalty to the young players, he should be able to gain their respect by giving them all a fair crack.

  • qwicwted

    It’s going to be an interesting season – there are a lot of players that could be added to this list – Stafford, Ennis, Foligino, AKaleta etc. The positive is that there are a number of youngsters that are ready to step up and maybe step in.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I fully agree there are so many more players to add to this list. Stafford was next on the list for me and I recently wrote about Adam needing to prove himself, but it will be an interesting season in Buffalo for sure.
      It’s time for Miller and Vanek to ship out so we can go in a different direction under Rolston.

  • ende

    The Sabres have nothing to prove except that they can tank two seasons straight to rebuild off of high draft picks. Stop looking forward to this season. It’s not going anywhere.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      well that is certainly a positive way to look at next season…

      • ende

        positive near term outlook is what has gotten us into the mid-standings malaise we have found ourselves in the past decade. Chicago and Pittsburgh should be the model here. Both teams skimmed bottom for awhile and picked up high draft picks, rebuilt from scratch. We need to completely disassemble the old team (which is well under way now), and take on a slow, smart rebuild over the course of a couple seasons. We need to rebuild the right way if we want to see the Sabres enjoy a sustained period of competitiveness.

        right now, positive near term outlook can only set us back from that plan.