Playing Frankenstein: Buffalo Sabres Lines By Me

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Line 1: Thomas VanekCody Hodgson – Joel Armia

See – already I’m out of my mind, putting a rookie on the first line!  Good thing I’m not a coach.  This is really a case of, “Who else are you going to put there?”  I suppose if I was the coach of this team I could turn to Drew Stafford and say, “I know last year was an anomaly; I know you’ll respond this season,” but I just don’t have the faith in Stafford to produce.  I don’t think he is now, or ever has been, first-line material.

The mad scientist in me was tempted to put Patrick Kaleta on the first line, only because neither Vanek nor Hodgson have shown much of a knack for playing – wait for it – defense.   It might be fun to watch now and then, but allocating this many minutes to Kaleta is just a giant waste.

joelarmiaWhich brings me to Armia.  Quick story: this summer, my 7 year-old son was about to move up to a new Little League Baseball division, one in which coaches still pitch.  Due to his size and talent level, however, he was actually moved up to an even higher level, despite the fact that he had never faced live pitching before and was still very uncertain of the actual rules of baseball.  As his coach, I could have buried him in the line-up and hid him out in right field for the entire season.  Instead, I moved him all over the field just like I did every player, and I had him bat second in our line-up.  He scored the first run of the season for his in the very first game and became a solid contact hitter who rarely struck out and got on base more than anyone else on the team.

The point of this story is not to make you think my son will be playing MLB any time soon (he won’t); it is to show you that I knew he had potential, and threw him out there in order to let him figure things out.  I’m not a fan of what Lindy Ruff did with Mikhail Grigorenko last year – namely, the healthy scratch approach.  If Armia is as good as promised, play him.  Let him figure out his game.  The speed of the game is going to come to him eventually, so why not accelerate the process?  Seriously – what do the Sabres have to lose?  If the Sabres are in a rebuild, we’re in for a bumpy ride regardless, so play this guy on the first line and see if he can rise to the occasion some nights.

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  • Jes

    I like it. The only thing I would change is probably Larsson as I do believe Girgensons is ahead of him on the depth charts. And Armia will need some seasoning in the AHL, I wouldn’t put him up right away. Let him play like 15-20 games in the AHL before we start doing anything like putting him on the first line of an NHL club. But I do believe Hodgson won’t be signed by seasons start so I believe the lines will look like this at the beginning of the year

    Vanek – Grigorenko – Stafford (We need to get his trade stock up)
    Leino – Girgensons – Ennis
    Ott – Larsson – Flynn (Don’t know why you have him as a center he’s a RW)
    Foligno – Porter – Kaleta

    A quarter way through the season I see something like this

    Vanek – Hodgson – Armia
    Leino – Grigorenko – Ennis
    Ott – Girgensons/Larsson – Stafford (I think this is his last season, will be bought out or traded at deadline)
    Foligno – Porter? – Flynn/Kaleta

  • Caitlin Campbell

    I’m Curious as to why you have Foligno on the 4th line? He’s a budding star and keeping him on the 4th line isn’t going be good for his development.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I’m nowhere near a fan of Foligno as you are, CC. Don’t know why, but I just am not. I know what you are saying, but I feel worse about putting Flynn on the 4th than I do Foligno.

      • Caitlin Campbell

        Not a fan of my boy Marcus? I’m hoping he develops into an elite powerforward one day.

        • Jes

          Foligno won’t be an elite power forward. Way to inconsistent. He’ll be a guy who shows up here and there much like he does now. Only real time he shined was the hot streak him Stafford and Ennis had late a couple years ago and last years between the legs goal. Other than that honestly he hasn’t been that good. Well not good enough to be considered to be an elite PF one of these days. I hope I’m wrong because I love his style of play. Once we use our buyout next year on maybe both Leino and Stafford, Foligno could have a much bigger role next year.

          • Caitlin Campbell

            I don’t agree with the fact that he’s inconsistent. Last season was only his 2nd year in the NHL. He needs another season to develop and mature and then you’ll see the real Foligno. He’s big, tough reminds me of JVR in Toronto. He’ll definitely have a leadership role on this team for years to come.

          • Jes

            I dunno JVR? That’s over valuing Foligno right now, to be comparing the two. Physical set wise JVR? Yes, but skillset wise? Nope.

  • jimbobv2

    I would go with something like this to start:

    Foligno-Hodgson-Stafford
    Vanek-Ennis-Tropp
    Leino-Grigorenko-Ott
    Kaleta-Larsson-Flynn

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