With the departure of Jaroslav Spacek, Max Afinogenov, Teppo Numminen, Al Kotalik, and most likely Dominic Moore and Andrew Peters, and the addition of Mike Grier, Cody McCormick, and Steve Montador, the Sabres will surely have a "new" look this coming season. The past 2 seasons have left us fans asking "Where is the grit?", and finally Darcy has addressed the issue.
I love the addition of Mike Grier to the roster. He brings us grit, leadership, and a solid defensive game. Grier is the perfect winger to to the dirty work in the corners and open up space for the skilled players on his line. He will also boost up an already above average PK unit, and I would not be surprised if Lindy slaps an "A" on his sweater.
Stever Montador was an under-the-radar signing across the NHL, but I think it is a solid pick up for the Sabres. An extremely gritty defenseman, who will give us solid play in our end of the ice. I'd love to see him paired with Sekera to take some pressure off of Andrej in our end, and allow him to open up his game more offensively.
I haven't seen much of Cody McCormick, but I like the little I have seen and I love what I'm hearing. He should no doubt be the "meanest" player on the team. His penalty minute totals prove he loves to drop the gloves, and I believe we will see a lot more fighting majors from the Sabres. He will fill the 4th line nicely, and has more offensive ability than Andrew Peters, so he will get more ice time than him.
With these 3 additions to the roster I do believe the team is headed in the right direction, but I don't think it's enough, yet. My biggect concern is the offensive ability from out current defense core. Sekera seems to have the best puck-moving ability and the most offensive skill, but I don't think it's enough for him to produce highly on the first PP unit. Rivet and Butler will be our number one shut-down pair, and neither have the ability I'm looking for as a PP contributer. I like Toni Lydman in a 16-18 minute playing time range, and strictly as a penalty killer. Montador won't give us much offensively, so who does that leave us? In my eyes, nobody on the roster has the PP ability this team needs. There is one UFA still on the market that I feel would fit perfectly on this roster...
Marc-Andre Bergeron. He has bounced around so far in his career, but has put up some quality numbers over the past 3 seasons. In 69 games with the Islanders he scored 15 goals and assisted 24 times. Of those, 12 goals and 11 assists were on the PP. Last season in Minnesota, he scored 14 goals and assisted 18 times in 72 games (7PP goals and 11 PP assists), and that is with a defense corps that features Kim Johnnson, Brent Burns, and Marek Zidlicky, and all of them play on the PP units. His salary last season was just over $1.2 million, so we have the cap space available to make a deal with him. If he was added to the roster, I truly believe this team, barring major injuries, would have a chance to make a run at a 4-5 seed, and win a playoff round.