Zemgus Girgensons (28) Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Looking Towards The Future – What One Player Should Be The Foundation Of The Buffalo Sabres?


If you would’ve asked me a couple weeks ago about the “rebuild” of the Buffalo Sabres, I would have laughed at you. Now though, with some progress being made, i.e. finally canning Darcy Regier - I think we can now call it a true and full-fledged rebuild.

First things first, the team needs a GM – which is the first task for Pat LaFontaine. Let’s fast forward to after a GM is named though – coaching aside, who do you build the new Buffalo Sabres around?

There is a lot of young talent on the team, and several players will easily be candidates to make up the new core of the Sabres – but who is the one player that the GM should build the foundation with?

Mikhail Grigorenko (25)
Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Back in the summer of 2012 I would have answered that question with Mikhail Grigorenko – selected 12th overall by Buffalo in the 2012 draft. Grigorenko was drafted to be the next Sabres superstar and #1 center. He has tremendous skill, has the ability to score goals and make great passes/plays. What more could you want? Unfortunately for Mikhail, Buffalo is looking for some hustle and hard work as well – aka showing your organization that you want to be a superstar in the NHL.

As of right now, I would build the team around the Sabres second pick from that June – Zemgus Girgensons, selected 14th overall. Girgensons, unlike Grigorenko, was able to play in Rochester last season – which enabled him to gain some experience and figure out how he would fit into the Sabres organization. This season, Girgensons was able to crack the teams NHL roster and hasn’t looked back since. He has played in 22 out of 23 games, and has 1 goal and 5 assists.

Girgensons is exactly what the Sabres are looking for…

  • A big center
  • Hard worker
  • Hustle’s every shift
  • Physical
  • Goal scorer
  • Playmaker

These are all the qualities on the Sabres checklist, and Girgensons checks them all off. So as I mentioned, he would be the perfect player to build a team around – I will even go out on a limb and say that he is the future captain of the Buffalo Sabres. This isn’t to say that Grigorenko can’t become a superstar for the Sabres – it is just more apparent in my eyes that Girgensons will succeed with the Sabres.

Enough about my opinion, who is your pick? Looking forward to the future…

Who Should The Buffalo Sabres Build Their Foundation With?

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres

  • Jes

    Girgensons I don’t think fits the bill as a “Franchise Player.” He’s like a Lucic type of player with MAYBE a little more offense. Don’t get me wrong he’ll be popular and everything but does not have it all to be THE GUY in Buffalo.

    Like the Preds I think we should build from the backend. And we are doing great with that. Myers, Ristolainen, Zadorov, Pysyk, McNabb, and McCabe all look to be top end talent. Now is the time to focus on the forward side of things. We have nothing really eye popping in the forward side of thing. So drafting high skilled forwards should be our goal from here on in. That’s how we will get our FRANCHISE PLAYER.

    Goaltending would be 3rd thing I’d focus on. We have a tonne of goalies in our system but do they have what it takes? That’s the question. If I could get a goalie who is supposed to go in the first round I’d take him.

    • Mark Huss

      Completely understand your point, and it is a good idea. Please don’t compare a Sabre to Milan Lucic though, that is just wrong!

      I was going to mention that everyone in Buffalo is drooling over Steve Ott, and Girgensons is like Ott, but I think he will bring way more skill to the table than Ott ever could.

      • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

        ” Please don’t compare a Sabre to Milan Lucic though”

        Ha ha ha ha!

      • Thomas Eric

        Personally I don’t think ott is the guy to lead the sabres yes he has upside leadership and work ethic but in my opinion in any other organization ott would be a third liner. I love how he plays but I think this is proof that the sabres handled players differently and rush people/force them in to positions as well as miss managed them. For example grigenko should be second or 3rd line playing with skilled players not whirred on the forth line. I also would like to see when armia gets back to see him on the second or third line to see what he has to offer. Would also like ruhwedel to be up in buffalo played real well last year.

  • qwicwted

    I really liked the Girgensons pick and all that he brings with him, I also like Ristolainen and Zadorov. Grigorenko reminds me of Gaborik – has a ton of talent, but just doesn’t quite give maximum effort – in fact, for a long time Gaborik has not lived up to his contract of $7M and make things happen. The Sabres have some leadership material with our youth – Girgensons, McNabb, Ristolainen have all been Captains on their previous teams. I think we’ve got some really good youngsers that we can build our “core” around.

  • Dano

    ” Who is the one player that the GM should build the foundation with? ”

    Presently, ‘ none of the above ‘. One of those mentioned might pan out to be the necessary prospect for such, but building a ‘ team ‘ around an ‘ individual ‘ is a rough ordeal. All the eggs in one basket so to say.

    ” Who is your pick? Looking forward to the future…”

    Im actually under the belief that the Sabres need to sign ( not draft ) a cornerstone of leadership of some kind for the next 2-3 years ( possibly longer ). They might need to grab a Veteran to help things along.

    GIRGENSONS – Have to see how he developes. As stated, he has a great work ethic. He does try to get involved on the ice and does put in a great deal of effort. Of all the ‘ rookies ‘, he has the best potential to become something. His positioning during play is a lot better then someone with his experience level would have.

    ZADOROV – I dont see him as a ‘ leader ‘, but someone with potential, a LOT of potential ( hoping the Buffalo System doesnt ruin the kid. ).

    RISTOLAINEN – Same as Zadorov.

    GRIGORENKO – Chime up the crying people, your hearing this on sabresnoise first! He will be GONE by the end of the 2014 season. Maybe Roy in Colorado will take him off the Sabres hands? Coached him in Juniors.

    Before I would pick a player, I’d rebuild the Development Staff.

  • Dan

    What One Player Should Be The Foundation Of The Buffalo Sabres?What One Player Should Be The Foundation:Valeri Nichuskin…opps, he’s playing on the first line and first powerplay for Dallas. “Safe is Death”

    As far as the slaying of Grigorenko, he is 19 years old and should not be put in a position to be judged at the NHL level. It is far to early to writing him off as a bust. Those assertions are from those who have either not played the game at a high level or just ignorant.

    Please be reminded of the some current and past Stars:

    Danny Briere was playing in the Q at 19, did not break into the NHL until 22, did not break have break out season until 25 years old/

    Chris Drury was playing at Boston College until 22 and did not crack the Colorado lineup until 22.

    Tomas Vanek was playing at Uof Minnesota at 19, played in Rochester and finally broke into the NHL at 21.

    Pavel Datsyuk, a Russian who has been a team leader and SUPER STAR, did not play with the Detroit Red Wings until 23 years old.

    I could go on and on and on with other examples, but why bother.

    • Mark Huss

      I agree with you, and never once said that Grigorenko can’t still be a star player.

      Right now, Girgensons, who I might add is also 19, is showing that he really wants to make a different in the Sabres organization – and that is the type of player I would want to build a team around.

  • Justin Tosczak

    I have been all about Z since the preseason. I think he can be the future Captain for sure, but as much as I like him, he is not the high end scoring threat we need. Maybe Armia can fill that position, only time will tell. Point being though, The captain, and person/people we build around does not have to be a top goal scorer. A winning attitude and strong work ethic are more valuable if you ask me…