The 2013 NHL season for the Buffalo Sabres will be one of uncertainty and optimism that should make the 48 game schedule an exciting sprint to the postseason.
1. Derek Roy is out, Steve Ott is in: Buffalo traded for Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy for the ostracized Roy. Ott brings toughness the Sabres they need and got rid of another undersized, soft center in Roy.
2. Will Buffalo make another trade for a top line scorer? The Sabres are still a top-level player away from being a serious threat in the Eastern Conference. They have an abundance of defensemen they can package together for a player like Bobby Ryan. Colorado center Paul Stastny was another name floated around that could come to Buffalo.
The point of the prospective trade was to get another top NHL scorer. A line with Ryan, Thomas Vanek and probably Cody Hodgson would be a formidable top line. It would also allow players like Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford to have less pressure on them. Although, I think Stafford would be a good piece to include as part of a deal for Ryan.
3. Will Mikhail Grigorenko be in Buffalo all season? The Sabres took two rookies in the top 14 picks in the 2012 draft. Mikhail Grigorenko at #12 and Zemgus Girgensons at #14 give the Sabres two big, skillful forwards for the future.
The question was how much the two rookies could contribute to Buffalo this year. Grigorenko will be attending Sabres training camp. Buffalo has six games to decide whether they want to keep Grigorenko for the entire season before he will be sent back to the Junior Level.
Girgensons will remain stay in Rochester, where he has been playing on the wing, despite being drafted as a center. He will likely stay in the AHL all season, but if Grigorenko is the 2013 version of Tyler Myers, he could be a huge and unexpected addition to the Sabres lineup.
4. Could this be Lindy Ruff’s last season with the Sabres? Buffalo has missed the playoffs the last two seasons and Ruff’s voice may be getting old in the Sabres locker room. This will be Ruff’s 15th season as the Sabres coach and he’s only been to the playoffs eight times in 14 years and only one Stanley Cup Final appearance 14 years ago.
The pressure on Ruff will start immediately. It might be unfair but if Ruff has a slow start in the shorten seasoned there will be a lot of noiseto see a coaching change.
5. Will the Ennis line pick up where they left off in 2012? Tyler Ennis was given a two year contract extension in September. At the end of the 2012 season, Ennis, Stafford and Marcus Foligno had fantastic chemistry together and they could be teamed up at the beginning of 2013.