Life after death……or in Buffalo’s case, life after Drury and Briere, is it time for fans to prepare for what seems now to be our inevitable fate?
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Like an Atheist afraid of death Buffalo Sabres fans must now seriously ponder what the world will look like if the two captains leave. As was reported on TSN.ca earlier today Briere looks to be gone. Combine the fact that Drury can likely fetch 7 million on the open market and objective opinion does not side with Buffalo chances at retaining either of the highly coveted centers. So what do the Sabres look like without Briere and Drury? Here are my lines without them to give an over-view of the situation.
Line 1 = Vanek, Roy, Stafford
Line 2 = Kotalik, Connolly, Afinogenov
Line 3 = Pomminville, MacArthur, Hecht
Line 4 = Paille, Guastad, Mair
So, to me we still maintain two solid offensive lines. No need to panic yet. To be honest I like these lines if it means bringing in some serious help on the back end. If we lose both Drury and Briere nothing short of Hannan and Sarich on the back end will be acceptable. We will have 8 million dollars freed up from the loss of the co-captains and that is easily enough to make strong pushes for the two mentioned free agents.
Another factor will be our young players. Can Paille and MacArthur step up full time next season? I think they can, I doubt MacArthur will get anywhere near 70 points but a solid 50 point campaign will be music to my ears. Now the tricky part, can Dan Paille become the player he was for Canada at the World Juniors. Is he another Mike Fisher in waiting or does he play himself into the AHL for the remainder of his career? I like Paille a lot, more than most and think he can come in and provide the defensive spirit that Drury brought game in and out. I do not think he can replace Drury’s goal production or face-off numbers, but in terms of being a spark plug who pesters the opposing teams elite players Paille looks more that capable.
So, is it the end of the world? No! Will we win the presidents trophy next year? Probably not. I still think even without the co-captains we can be extremely competitive. It is just a matter of Dracy grabbing the help we need on D if our offense suffers. Last year we tried to win on skill alone, perhaps a more balanced team will have more success.
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