Marcus Foligno Getting A Shot at the First Line

Sure it’s only the first day of on ice activities at training camp and we shouldn’t read too much into who was where, but there were some very interesting line combo’s on day one. Aside from reuniting the Steve Ott- Mikhail Grigorenko- Ville Leino line, the next most interesting tidbit was to see who skated on the first line with Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson and no it wasn’t Drew Stafford, in fact he wasn’t even in their session. Instead Marcus Foligno filled the void on the first line during the first on-ice session.

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from the whole captaincy debate, the biggest storyline for training camp is who will play with Vanek and Hodgson on the top line. Getting a top line that gels together and has great chemistry is no easy challenge, so one would think Ron Rolston would want to get that chemistry going with his first-line as soon as possible so they can gel together throughout camp. Now that the Sabres know Hodgson will be sticking around for a while, a good strategy for the Sabres would be to pair him with another young player who should be sticking around through the rebuild so they can build chemistry. Imagine if the Sabres could keep a line of Vanek-Hodgson-Foligno for the next two seasons, that line would be flying high.

Would Foligno on the top line be everyone’s first guess? Probably not. But, when you think about playing him on the first line with Hodgson, it makes sense. Both are young players at the turning point in their careers. At 22 and 23 respectively, they both have a couple of years of NHL experience but, are almost ready to take their games to the next level. Having the two play together could only help them grow together and possibly become a top duo in the league.

It also wouldn’t hurt the young Foligno to learn from someone like Vanek. He’s always been a solid consistent scorer, if that could rub off on Foligno, who has the potential to be a top power-forward maybe he’ll turn into a lethal scoring threat for the Sabres.

Although Foligno is young, he’s a very mature hockey player with tremendous hockey IQ. He knows what he has to do, what is expected of him and understands when he’s not playing up to par. He wants a bigger role with the Sabres and would thrive with the opportunity to play on the first line with Hodgson and Vanek. Hodgson and Vanek already have great chemistry together, adding Foligno too that mix could only help the youngsters game and give him an added boost of confidence. Another great thing about having Foligno play with Hodgson and Vanek is his willingness to do the dirty work. He’ll drive the net, battle in the corners, drop the mitts and lay big hits, which will help open up the ice for his linemates.

It’s only the first day of camp and lots could change by tomorrow, Foligno could be on the fourth line, but it was very interesting to see him on the top line for day one. I’d definitely like to see Foligno play at least one pre-season game with Vanek and Hodgson to see how the line looks, but it sounds like it could be a winning line. Do you like seeing Marcus Foligno on the top line?

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, First Line, Marcus Foligno, Training Camp

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  • Jes

    Yes in the future for sure but right now I want to see Stafford on the first line to get his trade stock up.

    • erico

      staffords trade stock will never be high. He will be traded by deadline to a team that needs to reach the cap floor. He will be traded for a late first/ second round pick

      • Caitlin Campbell

        I have to agree with Erico on this one, nothing at this point in time is going to up Stafford’s trade value… teams have seen enough of him and already know what he’s all about. He’s nothing more than a depth player for any playoff team.

        • erico

          like the Pommer trade, stafford will be dealt in a similar manner but with not as much return

          • Caitlin Campbell

            I’d settle for some picks or a young player but wont be anywhere near as much.

        • Jes

          Not surprised Caitlin you always disagree with me:).

          Erico,, Stafford’s stock can go pretty high my friend. No ones going to take a chance on a guy who is buried on a 3rd line and not putting up points and makes $4+ million a year. That’s just plain dumb. Would you be more enticed to give up a draft pick and prospect for guy who is on pace for 25+ goals or 12-15 goals? His stock can go from taking salary back of his contract for like a 5th rounder to or a mid level prospect + a draft pick? Simple economics states you got to make him seem valuable. Only way that happens is if he’s putting up points. We all know we don’t really buyout players so I doubt they will not buy Staff out at years end. The only way we will be able to get rid of him is to play him on a top 2 line otherwise he’s just deadweight on this team for the next two season.

          • qwicwted

            Jes, I have to agree with you about getting Staffords stock higher. I like some of the things he did towards the end of last season and in order to get anything of value for him he needs to regain some touch. I don’t mind Rolston giving Folgino a shot on the 1st line, but I can see Ott and Staff swapping out – Staff playing on the 2nd line with Leino/Gregorenko seeing if he can regain the chemistry he had with Leino. The good thing is that Stafford doesn’t have any restrictions in his contract.

  • erico

    If Marcus plays on the top line like he did on the stafford ennis line in 2012 he will dominate. Now the Leino-grigorenko-ott line is in place for second. Ennis-Larsson-stafford skated together today. now ennis contract, not that bad for a 3rd liner. Whos the odd man out? STAFFORD, his 4m contract will not fly playing on the 3rd line. it would be nice if he is traded. i would like Armia jumping up to that spot. now if these lines are a go that must say something about our team having ennis play on the 3rd line

    • davidmuscalo

      I don’t think Regier could even get a bag of pucks for Stafford.

      • erico

        If he traded an aging unproven d like brennan for a 5th rounder, he can get atleast a second for an experienced 27 year old like stafford

        • wolfdoctor

          24 year old T. J. Brennan is aging?

          • erico

            in prospect terms yes

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Vanek-Hodgson-Foligo/ Leino-Grigorenko-Ott/ Ennis-Larsson-Stafford sounds like some pretty solid lines going forward. 3 lines full of scoring.

  • davidmuscalo

    Foligno likes to skate through players, Vanek likes to planted himself in front of the goalie and with the creative Hodgson centering, the opposing goalies could have their hands full or ………….shall I say their nets full of pucks.

    I thought that Stafford would be on the first line, but perhaps, Rolston has seen enough of Drew’s inconstant play and lack of discipline in training. Stafford is old enough to have matured into a top six forward, but he hasn’t. Perhaps a demotion is what is needed to get him to play consistently at a high level.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      A line of Foligno-Hodgson and Vanek could be absolute trouble for opponents… hoping they get a shot. I was never sold on Stafford being on the first line, I just don’t think it’s a fit.

  • erico

    vanek and Folignos big bodies gives hodgson a lot more room to create plays. i see how this can work.

  • Ben Chalker

    I could see this work. if it does, an early exit for Mr Stafford could be on the cards. Didn’t they have a deal laid out with Columbus for Staff before they managed to land Gaborik?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      There was a lot of talk about Stafford heading out last offseason. They shouldn’t have too much trouble getting rid of him as long as they’re resonable

  • erico

    Vanek-Hodgson-Foligo/ Leino-Grigorenko-Ott/ Ennis-Larsson-Stafford.

    if the sabres can resign vanek/ott/ennis to extension then all i see is stafford being moved or bought out. id like to see Armia jump into that spot. Armia and Larsson have already formed some chemistry at the prospect tournament

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I love the way Rolston has his lines set up so far. As long as he’s patient unlike Ruff and gives the lines time to find chemistry the Sabres have 3 solid scoring lines to roll out.

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