Three Reasons Why The Buffalo Sabres Will Over-Achieve Next Season

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Reason #1: The Sabres Have Ron Rolston

Pundits, disgruntled fans, and haters of everything Buffalo are making all of their predictions based on what they see on paper.  Yes, the Buffalo Sabres have weaknesses, and yes, they are a young and incredibly inexperienced squad.   Check out the website, read a little about how green they are going to be, make your predictions.  Easy, right?

Mar 21, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston watches the action from the bench during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Leafs 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Good thing the games are played on ice.

For starters, the Sabres have a highly-ranked group of prospects.  It is widely believed that Buffalo’s class of prospects ranks among the top third of the entire NHL, so there is talent to be had, young as it may be.

In addition, the roster you see online cannot show you how hungry and motivated a squad of young players are, or how eager they are to prove the can play in the NHL.  Nor can a roster display how fast a coach can develop young talent, or how much of an “over-achieve” effect that coach can have on his squad.   I don’t know how long Ron Rolston will be the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres – he may forever be known as a coach who develops young talent, in which case his time in Buffalo is limited – but he’s the perfect coach for such a young team.  His success with the USA NTDP leads me to believe that he will bring this core of players along quickly, and will use their hunger to create a team that plays better than a third-to-last place in the NHL.

Don’t prove me wrong, Ron!

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  • lamarred1118

    So many questions and variables, new coaches beside Rolston, no real additional help being acquired, contract status for each of the guys due to be UFAs, etc. Regier said it might take some pain, so far the most painful thing is waiting for him to make an attempt to do something other than build through the draft, which will always be a crapshoot.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I was – and still am – very critical of Regier’s “draft only” approach this offseason. I am stunned that the Sabres think rebuild = draft only, which is a crap shot, as you said. Personally, I don’t think upper management has the proper vision necessary to truly build a championship team. Having said that, I don’t want to dwell on the negative too much now, since the season has not started yet. I’ll give the young kids a chance to show some stuff, but I will let the Sabres have it if this year is an utter embarrassment, and if they continue to make questionable decisions in the front office!

      • qwicwted

        Hey Rich – who would you have suggested Darcy sign? I believe he tried to entice Briere back, but Danny decided to go home. Iginla? Nah…..he looked pretty slow to me during the playoffs. I’m sure he tried to unload Vanek and Miller, but I think they hurt their value by saying they weren’t interested in being part of a “rebuild” or maybeI should say…..babysitting? And for one – he stated very clearly he wanted to go West. Unfortunately for us, I mean him……most West Coast teams are pretty much set. So, I’d rather have Darcy do no deal, then a fire sale. Miller – his value might increase if any of the 8 teams not listed by him need a goalie and offer a draft pick. For Vanek……his value will improve when the trade deadline approaches.
        Actually, I would like to see him commit to the team, sign an extension and be given a shot at Captain. But…..if he wants to go, so be it.
        At this point, I would rather the Sabres let our youngsters play and at least see a 125% effort. In all honesty…..there was a lack of talent or a decline in existing talent in this year’s UFA pool.

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          As far as this UFA’s, I was 100% okay with Darcy staying out of the waters, especially given the sort of contracts players were getting. Now, on the trade front, I have a different take. Going back to last season, when the Sabres were thin up the middle, I would have liked to have seen the Sabres take a legitimate shot at Ryan O;Reilly. With Colorado leaving ROR to rot in the KHL, and with their goaltending situation less than favorable, there was an opportunity. There still is, actually (just not with ROR, who cannot be traded until February). I cannot claim to have any insider knowledge, so I won’t sit here and make it sound like I know for a fact that Regier didn’t try to swing some deals, but it’s hard to believe he could not have gotten some good value out of a package that included possibly Vanek and Stafford, maybe even a pick or aprospect. I certainly would not want him to get fleeced, or make a trade just for trade’s sake, but very few people can believe the Sabres sat on their hands while the rest of the NHL improved vie free agency, trades, or both. I want prospects like Armia, Girgensons, McCabe, Larsson, and Girgorenko to play a ton – but to take such a passive approach to bringing in one or two proven players, in order to facilitate the rebuild, really baffles me.

          • qwicwted

            Rich, if you look at our lineup – we have Vanek, Leino, Ott, Ennis, Stafford and Kaleta – that 50% experience and veteran leadership for mentoring Hodgson, Armia, Girgensons, Gregorenski and Larsson. We know Ott has leadership capabilities and fans are lobbying for Vanek to be Captain. Hasn’t Stafford worn the A? Now, I guess we could sign Morrow – but who should sit? Perhaps Stafford…..but I think we want to increase his trade value, perhaps Ennis or maybe Leino. I guess a trade that I would like to see might be a swap of Hodgson for Stepan. We know what Stepan has and we also know that the Rangers are lowballing him. Hodgeson has some work to do in improving his defense and faceoffs – I don’t know what’s going on with him – but I’m sure we do know what’s going on with Stepan.
            As for our D – we have Ehroff who also is being talked about for Captain, Tallinder, Sulzer and even Weber to help mentor our youth – McNabb, Ruhwedel, McBain, Pysyk and Ristolainen. I don’t mind bringing Tallinder back – maybe he will help Meyers regain his focus and help him grow up. He really should be embarassed for accepting the $10M bonus last year and then admitting that he wasn’t prepared for the season. I think the only D-man that I thought would help us would have been Ference – but otherwise anyone worth their salt is already a mainstay on another team. So, I would rather go with what we have.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            I see what you are saying – yes, we sure do have a lot of mentors for the young kids! – but I still feel like there needs to be a player or two brought in to provide some instant help for someone like Vanek., I’d take Stepan in a heartbeat, and Ryan O’Reilly if he’s being shopped in 2014. I’m not adverse to the rebuild at all, just surprised that the Sabres were one of the least active teams in the NHL when they are one of the teams that need the most help.

          • qwicwted

            I understand what you are saying, but I also am a realist – you have to have something someone wants in order to get something in return. Supply/demand – ROR would have really helped the team, but looking at the overall picture, I don’t believe CO was ready to let him walk or trade. Who do we have to trade that would bring us instant help for Vanek? Miller? most goalie positions are set, Stafford maybe for another underperformer, Ott – then you are trading tit for tat.
            I would love to trade for Joe Pavelski – but who could we trade to San Jose? Vanek – so your back to your original dilema. I guess my thinking is that we traded some of our assets (Kassian, Roy, Gaustad, Leopold, Regher, Sakera, and Pomminville) for high draft picks and/or quality prospects – at this point, I would rather go with my youngsters than try to trade for a 2nd tier guy.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            I’m not as certain that Colorado always intended to keep ROR. Rumor has it that the Sabres are in talks with the Avs, most likely for Miller, since the Avs goaltending is not impressive. If it makes a difference, I will be more than happy to get on the phone with Sakic in order to convince him to let ROR come our way!!!