In breaking news....It has been made official that Darcy Regier will be the GM next season. Well that kills my hope for change. Darcy remains GM to fix his own mess of a team. After a second straight season with no playoffs, looking worse than before, and the same lousy excuse for a general manager the Sabres organization sees it fit to raise ticket prices...THIS IS MADNESS!
Summed up in one paragraph, I give you the Sabres 2013 season:rnFirst two games looked great; nothing but downhill from there. Last season the team management looked to injuries to key players as well as a stale "core". This season, with part of that core gone due to the departure of Gaustad, Conolly, and Roy in the past 2 seasons, the core was not the issue. The hopes of this season came down to s series of "IFs". The Sabres could make the playoffs IF Ryan Miller had a Vezina season, he played well, but certainly not Vezina quality. IF Drew Stafford rediscovered his scoring touch, he did not. IF Tyler Myers could have another huge year somewhat similar to his rookie Calder performance, which also did not happen. IF the Ville Leino signing could pan out; he played great for the whole 8 games he was healthy. IF the Cody Hodgson trade could pan out, it definitely did with Hodgson scoring 34 points in a 48 game season. A putrid effort throughout the middle of the season left the fans in the stands booing and players whining for them to stop. It was a sad season for Hockey Heaven but there were some bright spots.
As previously mentioned Hodgson has a great season. The young guys on the "585 line" played excellent. Porter, Foligno, and Flynn looked awesome on the same line. Thomas Vanek had a great season, slightly inconsistent at points, but still solid. Steve Ott has emerged as a team leader, which is excellent because the Sabres have longed for a vocal leader who can lead on and off the ice. Mike Weber rose up in a big way and is fast becoming a major part of our defensive core. Mark Pysyk was another bright spot whose first effort on the NHL squad was very good. Ron Rolston did look like a coach who could eventually lead an NHL team, but sadly I do not think he is who our team needs.
Heading into next season we have Hecht announcing his retirement and the potential trading of Miller and Vanek. I would not have wanted the team to trade Miller or Vanek unless Regier was going far away. Sadly that will not be happening. I would much rather see them both stay but it seems likely that they will be moved. They both deserve to raise the Stanley Cup, but I was obviously hoping it would be on this team. Now as much as I like Hodgson I would love him as a 2nd line center. That being said we still need to go out and get a strong, scoring, 1st liner. If that player is going to be Girgensens or Grigorenko they should be brought up and properly used on this team unlike what the combination of Darcy/Ruff thought would work. Joel Armia seems ready to go for his NHL debut next season which is another thing I am excited about.
I would rather see this team bundle its draft picks and go get that 1st line center than pick a could-be player from the upcoming youth. That is unless the Sabres can trade up in the draft to one of the top 3 positions. Getting a player that is currently very productive would show Vanek and Miller that this team wants to win soon and is not looking to start a lengthy rebuild. Keep fingers crossed for the draft lottery, although I know the chances are slim the Sabres with get the first pick.