Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Loaded At The Blueline

We are just 16 games into the season, and there are still many questions to be answered on the state of the Sabres blue line. Will Nikita

Zadorov play the season out in Buffalo, or will he be sent down to the OHL? Will Brayden McNabb finally get his chance to prove he is a full time NHLer? Will our so called number one Dman Christian Ehrhoff be dealt? With the Sabres in the early stages of a rebuild, it would make sense for Regier to move a veteran piece or two and acquire some draft picks or prospects; however, Regier has done an exceptional job at this, as the Sabres have an astounding 17 combined 1st and 2nd round picks between 2012-2015. I will examine some possible moves the Sabres may realistically make on the back end.

Let’s start with the obvious and take a look at the young pieces the Sabres have drafted over the past couple of years. I think it’s safe to say that Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen Nikita Zadorov and 2012 2nd rounder Jake McCabe aren’t going anywhere. These players represent the future of the Sabres blue line. Both 1st round picks in the 2013 draft, Ristolainen and Zadorov have impressed during their time up in Buffalo and have an abundance of potential. Mark Pysyk played extremely well during his call up last year, and although he’s off to a slow start this year, I truly believe Pysyk will pan out to be a solid top 4 Dman in a couple of years. Jake McCabe led team USA to a Gold medal last World Juniors, and he too will have a major impact on the Sabres blue line in the near future.

With the veterans on the blue line, it is unfortunately a different story. Christian Ehrhoff is off to another below average start to the season. Although he is classified as “a number one Dman” by most Sabres fans, he has been a huge bust since signing his erroneous contract with the Sabres. Even though he eats up minutes, he can’t move the puck on the power play, can’t hit the net from the point and he often takes shifts off and wins limited battles in the defensive zone. If I’m Regier, I would be looking to move Ehrhoff in a heartbeat if there were any takers. So far, Henrik Tallinder has been unable to revive the career of Tyler Myers. Once again, Myers is having a below average year, sitting at minus 8 and looking completely lost. Tallinder on the other hand, is a minus 5 and taking up a valuable roster spot. To say the least, Mike Weber is struggling. Sitting at minus 12 in 11 games, Weber needs to step up his play when he is healthy.

Perhaps the biggest mystery with the Sabres blue line is that Brayden McNabb is still in the AHL. In 8 games with the Rochester Americans, McNabb has 9 points and has been the Amerks best Dman. McNabb had an extremely solid preseason with the Sabres, and it is unfortunate the McNabb is not up in the NHL. Hopefully Regier is able to move a veteran or two in the near future so McNabb can finally showcase his talents and prove that he belongs in the NHL.

We are just 16 games into the regular season, and it seems that we are in for a long one. With the subpar play of the veterans on the back end, it is the young players that we must look forward to. Ristolainen, Zadorov and Brayden McNabb are the light at the end of the tunnel. Although there are dark times ahead, we must believe and have faith in Darcy Regier that he can lead us back to the promise land sooner rather than later.

Tags: Brayden Mcnabb Buffalo Sabres Darcy Regier

  • Jes

    Risto, Zadorov, and McCabe future of the Sabres blueline? Aren’t you missing someone? Yes, your missing Tyler Myers. All the guys you’ve mentioned have had a game here and there where they were noticeable. Risto has been a big disappointment so far and isn’t “NHL Ready IMO”. You got to realize we play on the worst team in the league offensively and defensively. Lone bright spot is the goaltending. Even Shea Weber would look lost on a team like this. So it’s really not fair to Myers to criticize him as much as you guys do on these boards. He’s played so much better than last year, I don’t know how nobody has seen that.

    • [email protected]

      I know you are a big Myers supporter, at least that is what I have gathered from your comments, so please don’t take my criticism of him to be an attack on your opinion. But even his improved play over last season isn’t anything close to what I think he is capable of. Improvement should be recognized, but when the improvement is from just awful to barely competent, you can’t expect everyone to be singing praise to Myers.

    • Curtis Marcaccio

      Based on the money he is making, he needs to be substantially better.

    • Dano

      The way I could tell Myers is on the ice.. the puck was just turned over, it was passed in FRONT of Miller.. or the other team just scored.

      From what I have seen from the rookies.. Myers doesnt have long with the Sabres. For having YEARS over these new kids, it sure doesnt show at all.

      Myers is lazy. He had that one good year.. then went on vacation.. hasnt come back..

    • Kevin

      How can you pick on an 19 yr old learning to play defense in the NHL on an awful team? I feel sorry for Z and Risto being thrown into this snake pit. This no way to learn. An awful environment with nobody to look up to. Some players can work through that, but ultimately they are all effected by it.

      • Jes

        How can you pick on Myers? If age is a question for the rookies then why not Myers he’s only what 22-23 years old. Not his fault that Pegula and the brainiacs gave him that money. He was never going to be Chara. And at his age still very young for a defenseman.

        • Kevin

          Nah! Didn’t mean Myers. He is another story altogether. You bring up a good point though Jes. Although was it his fault he was given that big contract? Or was it? I think it was foolish for fans to expect Myers to be what he was in his rookie year, every year. He was to stupid and still wet behind the ears to know how handle the success. I think even he was fooled by it. Let’s hope our new rookie dmen don’t make that same mistake. Myers fell into a sophomore slump and is slowly coming out of it and becoming the average dman he really was meant to be.

          • Jes

            LOL!! Myers isn’t an average defenseman. Is he much better than average. Is he Chara right now? Nope. Even Chara was pretty bad in his first few years in the NHL.
            But whatevs everyone has there own opinion.

  • erico

    any news on when joel armia will be back?

    • Curtis Marcaccio

      I believe he is going to be practising with the Rochester Americans very soon, and starting the year in the AHL

  • Dano

    “we must believe and have faith in Darcy Regier that he can lead us back to the promise land sooner rather than later.”

    Not happening from me. No apologies. Regier knew these rookies were coming into the system, why doesnt he find a mentor for them?

    • Vic Soga

      Dano, it wouldn’t surprise me that Sabre Management send Grigorenko and Zadorov back to Junior. They will be back under mentor Cunneyworth who will be their next coach. Randy Ladouceur may be his assistant or will he keep Teppo. The Sabres need someone to coach the rookies how to play the PP and PK this year and next. Also winning face-offs on the PP.

  • davidmuscalo

    Tell, me, where do you buy your KoolAde – have faith in Regier! It his fault that this team in in free fall and hasn’t even come close to bottoming out. Thanks to Regier, it will be years before we see a legitimate NHL team in Buffalo and that will only happen when Terry wakes up and gets a competent GM and President for the management of the team.

  • Jacob Breunig

    Please look up the definition of erroneous, I think you meant enormous, know your vocab before you try to sound smart

    • Curtis Marcaccio

      I did mean to use the word erroneous. Based on the definition, it describes the Ehrhoff contract pretty well.

  • lee Munn

    Good Story. Like you I am hoping McNabb gets called up soon. He fit in well 2 years ago in his tryout.. then everyone forgot about him. As for Myers, I still like him… is he worth that money, NO. But for the next few years I don’t see salery cap being a prob until many of these youngsters have been in a few years. I woild like to see Our ‘D’ by next year (Pysyk/Risto/Zad./McCabe/McNabb & Myers) …with Weber & McBain on for &7/8 Injury DMen. If we do not trade Erhoff I won’t be too upset, because McCabe/Risto or Zad may need some in Roch. I know many do not like Myers but if he was a 4th Dman on the team and his mins. down to 18-19 it might be better for him, only negitve would come 3 years from now when McCabe/Risto & Zad are in for new contracts, if they turn into the D’men we hope, Thats when we would have to remove him.