Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One cut needed, one-eye on the waiver-wire, plus--the captains

Reprinted with permission from

The Sabres have finally named their captains: Brian Gionta will wear the "C" while Josh Gorges and Matt Moulson will be alternates.

New Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta
is flanked byalternate captains Josh Gorges (l)
and Matt Moulson (r)
(photo courtesy, sabrespr.)

Yesterday forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and Zac Dalpe (pending waivers) were sent to Rochester. Those moves brought the Buffalo Sabres roster down to 24 active players. Three players--forwards Johan Larsson and Patrick Kaleta and defenseman Mark Pysyk--are on the injured list. In addition, goalie Matt Hackett, who would need to clear waivers, is also injured.

Both Kaleta and Hackett will be out for at least another month or two. Pysyk is close to returning from an upper body injury, but will probably miss the opener while Larsson has been on the ice skating in a non-contact jersey. He is recovering from what's believed to have been a concussion.

Because of those injuries, Sabres GM Tim Murray has plenty of roster flexibility and will only need to make one cut today.

The Sabres look to be icing this lineup of 13 forwards for the Thursday opener versus the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Matt Moulson/Tyler Ennis/Drew Stafford
Cody Hodgson/Zemgus Girgensons/Brian Gionta
Marcus Foligno/Sam Reinhart/Chris Stewart
Nicholas Deslauriers/Cody McCormick/Torrey Mitchell
Brian Flynn

As of right now they're rolling with 13 forwards as opposed to the typical 14 meaning they'll be able to carry eight defenseman should Larsson either not be cleared to play or be sent to Rochester. They have nine on the roster right now. The top-six could look like this after today:

Josh Gorges/Tyler Myers
Andre Beniot/Rasmus Ristolainen
Andrej Meszaros/Mike Weber

Tyson Strachan, Jake McCabe, and Nikita Zadorov look like they'll be the reserves and one of those reserve defenseman will need to be cut today.

The easiest thing for the Sabres to do is to either send McCabe to Rochester or Zadorov to the London Knights, his junior team as Strachan would need to clear waivers. With the way Strachan performed in the preseason, he could very well get claimed.

The cool thing with this lineup and the way it's structured is that Reinhart and Zadorov are expected to be sent to their junior team while McCabe--even with his rock-solid training camp--will probably play most of the year in Rochester. None of them would need to clear waives and it creates three openings.

And of the injured, both Larsson and Pysyk could also be sent to Rochester without clearing waivers.

With every team needing to get their roster down to 23 players by 5pm today, sheer numbers dictate that a good player will be exposed to waivers and Murray will be able to pounce without losing a roster player.

While I'm not of the opinion that Grigorenko, based upon his performance, should have been sent to Rochester, he probably would have ended up their anyway with the way the roster is shaping up.

At the end of the day, the organization will continue to reset. Both Buffalo and Rochester have roster foundations with which to build upon.

Throughout this whole process, maybe it's best to keep in mind that General Manager Tim Murray has said that he'll slowly be adding youngins into the lineup, some two to three of them over the course of the next two or three years. And despite the whole "earning a roster spot thing," they are intent upon proper player development.

Pysyk has played in nearly 100 AHL games, including on the top-pairing late last year and into the playoffs. Larsson has played in 120 AHL games and has six points in eight playoff games. Both of those players are looked upon as legit NHL'ers, and have paid their dues.

Even though Ristolainen has played in only 34 AHL games, he forced his way onto the roster this season with his off season conditioning and a very strong training camp. And at the 2013 draft, he was the only defenseman not named Seth Jones deemed NHL-ready.

Those are your three newbies this season.

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