5 Things to Watch as Sabres Open Training Camp

Training camp has once again arrived and unlike last season teams will be able to put their players through a full camp and see where their prospects stand. It will be good for teams like the Sabres to have a full training camp in order to get their young players all on the same page.

With the young Sabres coming off a successful Traverse City tournament, training camp will be a very exciting place. The young players will come in on fire and motivated to push for a roster spot and it will be up to the veterans to match the intensity or ride the bench. It will be exciting just to see the boys back on the ice after the long offseason but, there will be a few interesting storylines to follow throughout training camp.

1. Who plays on the first line?

Two of the three spots on the Sabres first line are tentatively filled, depending on what happens with the centre. What we don’t know is

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

who will accompany Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson on that first line. Will it be Ville Leino who signed for big money and was expected to be a game changer for the Sabres? How about Steve Ott who saw some time on the first line late last season? Or what about the speedy and determined Tyler Ennis?

If the Sabres want to get a head start on the rebuild perhaps slating Joel Armia or Traverse City sensation Nick Baptiste into the first line isn’t a bad idea. Baptiste earned an invite to the camp, why not give him some rushes with Vanek and Hodgson to see what he’s got?

The good news is the Sabres have lots of options to put with Vanek and Hodgson and training camp is all about finding the right chemistry. Who do you see playing on the top line?

2. Where will Tyler Ennis line up?

The Sabres no longer have an issue with lack of centres, so they don’t need Tyler Ennis to play centre, but he’s not a horrible centre. If Ron Rolston decides to re-unite the Foligno -Ennis- Stafford, line then it’s a safe bet to keep Ennis in the middle, but if that line isn’t together should Ennis stick to the wing?

Ennis battles hard every game and leaves his heart out on the ice and that’s a major reason the Sabres decided to keep him over Nathan Gerbe. Having Ennis in the lineup is a big asset, so it will be interesting to see where they slot him.

3. Who gets the C?

I’m sure you’ve read enough articles debating who should be the Sabres captain this offseason and good news the suspense is almost over. Within the next week Rolston should have his captain named and all the speculation will end, of course there will also be backlash regarding whoever is chosen.

Will it be the no-nonsense Steve Ott, the offencive Thomas Vanek, first-line centre Cody Hodgson or quiet veteran Christian Ehrhoff, who wins the battle for captaincy?

4. Which young players stick around

The Buffalo Sabres are the youngest team in the NHL and they’re only going to get younger in the coming the years. There is a lot of solid talent floating around the AHL and CHL/OHL ranks and a lot of those players will get a chance to show their stuff at training camp. The question becomes, how many rookies will be sticking around?

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The forwards for the Sabres are pretty much set and there are few openings, Zemgus Girgensons and Joel Armia probably have the best shot at cracking the forwards. Luke Adam will also be battling hard for a spot in the Sabres line-up. The biggest battle will be on the Sabres blueline where they’re literally overflowing with players. Despite two rough seasons, Tyler Myers will once again be back on the blueline, but who will be joining him? Will Chad Ruhwedel who captained the Traverse City Sabres crack the team? Mark Pysyk may be ready for a full-time NHL stint. And what about Brayden McNabb? Then you throw first round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov into the mix and realize there isn’t enough room on the blueline. Mike Weber, Henrik Tallinder, Myers and Christian Ehrhoff already take up 4 of the 7 spots, look for a dogfight during camp for the final three.

5. Tyler Myers and …

Will Rolston reunite former defence partners Tyler Myers and Henrik Tallinder? Tallinder made Myer’s transistion to the pro’s seemless and was a big part of his Calder Trophy winning season. But since he left the gentle giants game has gone down hill, hopefully reuniting the two can get the old Myers back.

If Myers and Tallinder are not paired together, who would you like to see Myers play with? Christian Ehrhoff could be another calming influence on him or maybe pair him with Mark Pysyk or Chad Rehwedel both solid young defenceman.

With Training camp set to open tomorrow and the Sabres to take the ice on Thursday. These are some of the early storylines to watch. Let me know your thoughts on these 5 area’s in the comments or on twitter @Hockeylife30.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, NHL, Training Camp, Tyler Myers

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  • davidmuscalo

    The first line will be Vanek and Stafford centered by Hodson – at least at the start of the season. The second line will be Leino and Ennis centered by Grigorenko. The third line will be Ennis and Foligno centered by Ott. The fourth line will be Kaleta and Armia centered by Girgensons.

    The competition for defense positions will be fierce. There is a lot of talent and only so many positions available. Unless Myers has learned to stick handle during the off season, the only reason he will make the team is his contract. Ehrhof, Weber, and Tallinder will round out the top four, the other positions on defense are up for grabs.

    This will be Ennis’s last year wearing a Sabres sweater – he is just too small and he wastes too much energy with his skating style. Also, Luke Adam will not make the team – he is an AHLer at best. He just doesn’t have the stamina to play in the NHL.

    • erico

      Ennis wont be on 2 lines dummy

      • davidmuscalo

        Very true, but you need a lesson in tact and spelling.

        • bullwinkle88

          Why? For pointing out an obvious mistake YOU made? Perhaps you should think a bit more before posting.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I don’t like having Stafford on the first line, he’s not first line material and I don’t care about trade value because most teams know what he’s capable of by now.

      Myers isn’t going anywhere but having Tallinder back could have a big impact on his game. It’s going to be hearty battle on the blue line for sure.

      I agree that Luke Adam will likely fail to make the roster.

  • erico

    take a chance and show some risk.

    vanek-hodgson-armia/larsson
    foligno-ennis-stafford
    leino-grigorenko-ott
    scott/porter-girgensons-kaleta/flynn

    armia/larsson tandem can ease eachother into a top line nhl role.
    Scott and kaleta will be played against more grittier teams

    until next year the line up will be

    vanek-hodgson- armia/larsson
    foligno-grigorenko-armia/larsson
    leino-girgensons-Ott
    fourth line is wide open for whoever wants it.

    ennis will most likely be traded because of his size(5’9″-160lbs) the sabres want to be a bigger team
    Stafford has not shown improvement through his whole career. he or Leino will be shopped or bought out (get more return for stafford)

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I really like the lines you came up with, I just don’t see Grigorenko centring the third line… move the 3rd line to #2 and you got it. I also don’t see Girgenson centring the 4th line but instead starting the year in Buffalo

      • erico

        grigorenko is unproven. besides this proper full lengthed training camp should get that chemistry back between foligno-ennis-stafford like it was at the end of the 11-12 season. During the shortened training camp in January leino-grigorenko-ott showed amazing potential until leino got injured and that line never saw the light of day. i feel the second and third line will produce similar stats so you can arrange them however you like. the sabres will actually be able to roll 3 scoring lines this year.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          I agree Grigorenko is unproven, but I just think the team would want him on the 2nd line… but I guess the third line wouldn’t horrible. I fully agree about the Ennis- Foligno-Stafford chemistry coming back and would love to see them start the year together.
          Man if the Sabres could roll solid scoring lines that would be a breath of fresh air.

          • erico

            people arent giving the sabres enough credit. the sabres got in a rut. the shortened season worked against buffalo. players werent ready, the removal of coaches and players joggled the lines too much and no one was able to create any chemistry.
            if the players fulfill theyre potential i do see the sabres making the post season.

            Vanek-84 points
            Hodgson-70 points
            Ennis-64 points
            Stafford-58 points
            Foligno-53 points
            Leino-52 points
            Grigorenko-48 points
            Ott-45 points

            larsson 25 points in 41 games
            Armia- 22 points in 41 games
            split the season between the two on the top line or these guys will fillin for an injured

          • Caitlin Campbell

            That’s a big if unfortunely and while I want to think positively I know there’s going to be a couple of guys who underperform, but they will definitely benefit from a full season with a coach and a training camp.

          • erico

            once miller leaves, stafford/leino are removed. kaleta is a fan fav but he is becoming more and more useless. hes just a pest. problem is in todays nhl you need a pest who can score as well.We have Ott to do this. Kaleta will be moved. This team will be a full force of young talent. I love the fact that Rolston is leading this team. You have the guy who coached the USNDP. who knows how to work with the development of young players better than him, nobody

      • Guest

        where i see players potential points
        vanek-84
        hodgson-70
        ennis-67
        stafford-56
        foligno-53
        leino-52
        grigorenko-46
        ott-45

        larsson-29 in 41 games **one of these guys may steal the show
        Armia- 24 in 41 games or they will fill in for an injured

        • Caitlin Campbell

          I think that’s a bit high for Stafford, but they seem like solid numbers

          • erico

            thats staffords points only if he gets his game going with ennis and foligno.

        • chas territo

          Stafford will definitely get 56 points!! When pigs fly! lmao!!

        • bullwinkle88

          I think you’re sniffing glue. Let’s get back down to Earth.

          Reduce each of those totals by about 15-20 points and you will be much closer to the final results.

  • chas territo

    Why the love for the laziest player on the Sabres? He needs to be traded or simply cut! By getting rid of him, we have a valuable spot for someone who works hard and comes to play every night!! Again, why the love for him? i will not say his name. If you can’t figure out who I’m talking about you are just lost!

    • erico

      Myers or Stafford? lol they can both be disappointing

      • chas territo

        Yeah that’s so damn true, but Myers is young enough that his window is still a little open, maybe……?

        • erico

          He wont be as bad as last season. during the shortened camp he was out of shape. then one thing led to another and he never shook the bad play.

          Hes been in buffalo majority of this summer working his mind and body. He has Tallinder. He has Rolston (who knows development). He will hold their hand through the whole season until he gets to where he should be.

          • chas territo

            I don’t know about lazy players, can they change their ways? Some do, some will always be. Will Myers be one or the other? Money and playing a game should be motivation enough, but it hasn’t yet!

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