Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The charge of the youngins

Darcy Regier made it official today, center Mikhail Grigorenko will be in the lineup tonight vs. Toronto. With the move, the #12 overall draft pick in the 2012 draft will be playing in his sixth game for the Sabres making him ineligible to return to junior.

Barring any changes, the 18 yr. old Grigorenko will be joining 22 yr. old center Cody Hodgson and C Tyler Ennis, 23, to form one of the, if not the, youngest trios of top-three centers in the league.

It's a changing of the guard down the middle for Buffalo.

Regier's old core, or "the Rochester Guys" as President Ted Black called them, is slowly being dismantled. Only one center, Jochen Hecht (who was not a "Rochester Guy" but considered part of the core none the less,) is in the post-Chris Drury/Daniel Briere line up this season. Tim Connolly was not re-signed in 2011, Paul Gaustad was moved at the trade deadline in 2012 and Derek Roy was traded during the 2012 off season.

TJ Brennan will also be on the ice tonight. The 23 yr. old rookie will be making his first appearance this season. He has 11 NHL games to his credit--all from last year--and the Sabres carried him as an eighth defensman rather than risk loosing him to waivers.

He'll be joined on the ice by defenseman Mike Weber. Weber is far from a youngin, but the 25 yr. old only has a total of 132 games in his four seasons with the big club.

Both will be playing different roles for the team.

Buffalo is in need of scoring and they'll be looking to Brennan to help fill that role, especially on the PP where his wicked shot found the back of the net seven times while with Rochester this season. He'll be taking the place of journeyman Alexander Sulzer (healthy scratch) who has performed admirably, but is not considered an offensive threat.

The big, physical Weber will be replacing the big, physical veteran Robin Regehr who has a "lower body injury." He'll looking to bounce back from a very poor 2011/12 campaign which saw his minutes decline along with his plus/minus rating. He was a team worst -19 last season.

Although the team still has some vets in their prime like Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller, Andrej Sekera, they are getting younger.

The 23-and-under brigade features the aforementioned centers--Ennis, Hodgson and Grigorenko--as well as LW Marcus Foligno (21) while Brennan will be joining fellow defenseman Tyler Myers (22) on the back end.

The changing of the guard is in full swing and the new core rising.

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