It would seem that the rebuild is on in Buffalo. They got new owners, spent big money on free agents like Ville Leino, and when things fell apart they decided to trade away guys like Jason Pominville and let the Lindy Ruff, the longest tenured coach in the NHL, go. Of course, they replaced him with Ron Rolston when guys like John Tortorella and Dallas Eakins were on the market, but that is neither here nor there. Darcy Regier has to work some magic if he wants to save his job, adapted to a rebuild quickly. So, how are things looking heading into this season?
Well, Thomas Vanek is still around, and he is still very good, as he led the team in goals and points last season even though he missed 10 games. Other than that, the Sabres don't have many very good veterans. Drew Stafford is hit-or-miss, at best, and I already mentioned Leino as a point of humor. They do have some young players, but those guys have had their struggles as well. I like Cody Hodgson, but what of Mikhail Grigorenko and Tyler Ennis? They have potential. They need to reach it.
Speaking of untapped potential, I think we can forget Tyler Myers turning into the second coming of Zdeno Chara. The Sabres may settle for the second coming of Hal Gill. Buffalo has some young defensemen who may play some this year and, if this is a true rebuild, they should. What will playing Henrik Tallinder teach you, other than the world is a cruel and unfair place sometimes?
Ryan Miller is still in net, and he is still a former Vezina winner, but he is also a 33-year-old goalie coming off a season with a .915 save percentage, which is good, but not terribly notable. Honestly, if the Sabres want to show that this is about the future, trading Miller may be a good option at the deadline this year, if not before it. Sure, maybe Jhonas Enroth isn't who they want to rely on as the goalie of the future, and maybe Matt Hackett isn't the guy either, but Miller likely will be winding down by the time this team is ready to make some noise, unless their front office pulls off some magic. Unless they want to try and pull an Edmonton, they will have to build through trades in some part, and even if you want to pull an Edmonton, having a goalie as good as Miller hinders that.
Buffalo's 2013-2014 season isn't all that intriguing to me. They won't make the playoffs. They may finish at the bottom of their division, and their division features Tampa Bay and Florida. What I am interested in is what they do this season to prepare themselves for the future. This is not a good team, so they might as well be a young team with potential. If anybody is going to be making notable trades during this season, I think it will be the Sabres.