"Let's put it this way: The most interesting thing about [the Sabres] this season will likely be seeing whether their two best players -- Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller -- are traded away before it ends. Otherwise it figures to be a bad season in Buffalo, but that's something they are prepared for."
So wrote Brian Stubits for CBSsports.com's Eye On Hockey Atlantic Division Preview.
One can't blame him either.
Sabres beat writer Paul Hamilton was on WGR yesterday afternoon and admits that he has no idea where this team is headed. Unlike recently re-acquired Henrik Tallinder who optimistically said, "I expect the Sabres to be in the playoffs."
Stubits rightfully calls it like he sees it, "[Sabres] GM Darcy Regier finally committed to this rebuild. What you get is a very young team that doesn't have a high payroll and has the expectations to match. So this season is going to be more about learning on the fly with the team they have now and seeing how they look down the road."
When it comes to individual players, the focus is on Vanek and Miller, as it should be. Stubits takes a crack at Sabres C Cody Hodgson, "not that he's a bad player, but you're talking about Cody Hodgson being the best player not named Vanek or Miller. While Hodgson can score, his all-around game leaves something to be desired."
He mentions youngins Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and Mikhail Grigorenko but, oddly enough, lays off Ville Leino (and his contract) as well as the woe's that Tyler Myers has faced since his Calder-winning season.
Perhaps he just didn't feel the need to delve too deeply into a last place team. Why put forth the effort? There are just too many question marks with this team right now.
Stubits is succinct and highlights all the major points including this about Miller and the team that played in front of him last season, "at this point they're still young and growing, not ready to challenge in this division. They can start by cleaning up the fact that they gave up more shots against than any team in the league last season. No wonder Miller got frustrated at times."