With training camp right around the corner, the Buffalo Sabres head into the upcoming season with lots of uncertainty. Will Ryan Miller be with the club come opening night? Will Thomas Vanek be traded? Will Darcy Regier move a Dman or two? What’s lost with all these distractions, is that there were many players that underperformed this past season. Although the Sabres are in the midst of a rebuild, the 2013-14 season will be a crucial one for Buffalo. Here are five Sabres that have something to prove this season.
After sliding to the 12th spot in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Buffalo Sabres took a chance on the Russian Superstar. Grigorenko impressed enough in training camp to make the big club. To say the least, Grigorenko struggled and was eventually sent back down to juniors, before playing a handful of games with the Sabres at the end of the season. In the end, Grigorenko finished the season with 5 points in 25 games. It is already known that Grigorenko will play in the NHL this season, so hopefully his skating and confidence have both improved come game time. Mikhail Grigorenko can be a big part of the Sabres success with improved play.
Drew Stafford is the definition of inconsistency. Since being drafted in the 1st round in the 2004 Entry Draft, Stafford has shown the good and the ugly. Some nights Stafford can be a solid top 6 forward, however, on most nights he plays like he doesn’t belong in the NHL. After a dismal 2012-13 season, which saw Stafford record 18 points in 46 games, time may be running out for the underachiever. Stafford has just 2 years remaining on his current contract and with another slow start to the season, Stafford will be watching from the press box and could be a candidate for a buyout come seasons end.
It is still yet to be seen how much longer Ryan Miller will be with the Buffalo Sabres. At certain points in his career, Miller has arguably been the best goalie in hockey, but since the 2010 Olympics his game has slid down hill. Miller has just been average of late, compiling a record of 17-17-5 this past season. Miller is in a contract year, and there is no doubt that the better that Miller plays, the higher the return value will be. Ryan Miller must play inspired hockey to benefit the Sabres and ultimately himself.
Since signing with Buffalo two off seasons ago, Ville Leino has been hampered by injuries, which caused the Finish forward to appear in only 8 games this past season; although his play was impressive as Leino recorded 6 points. Leino is coming off hip surgery and a fairly severe lung injury, but it has been recently reported that he will be a full go come training camp. Leino must prove that he can stay healthy and also prove that he is worthy of his 6 year 27 million dollar deal.
Since signing his monster 7 year deal, Tyler Myers has been a wreck to say the least. He has lost all of his game and not to mention all of his confidence. The former Calder winner had just 8 points in 39 games this past season going minus 8. Standing at 6’8”, Myers has the potential to be a beast like Zdeno Chara, and has shown flashes early in his career that he can be a premier Dman in the NHL. The pressure is on for Myers to have a bounce back season and prove that he can regain his past form.