2008/09: 41-32-9 – 91 pts (3rd in Northeast, 10th in East)
Arrived: Steve Montador (BOS), Mike Grier (SJ), Cody McCormick (COL), Joe DiPenta (ANH)
Departed: Jaroslav Spacek (MON), Teppo Numminen (retired), Dominic Moore (UFA), Andrew Peters (UFA), Maxim Afinogenov (UFA)
After narrowly missing the playoffs again in 2008-09, the Sabres made almost no moves this off-season. Patrick Kane made more news in the city of Buffalo than GM Darcy Regier. Spacek’s offensive prowess will be missed, while Afinogenov’s inconsistency will not. Mike Grier will add some grit and leadership up front, but it will not be enough to push the Sabres into the playoffs. Hopefully Buffalo’s fans will be treated to more of this, and less of this.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Derek Roy (C) – While I would not advise counting on Roy to carry your fantasy squad, his 70 points (30 PP) made him a solid number two center, although he did not contribute much in either the penalty minute or plus minus category. These latter two categories were well below his career numbers, and I expect a better season from Roy. 70 points, +5 and 55 penalty minutes sounds fair to me.
Thomas Vanek (LW) – If only Vanek could rack up some assists he would be an elite fantasy left-winger. That being said, he will continue to anchor the first line and powerplay, and you can count on him for 40 goals and 35 assists. Do not bank on another +47 season, but he will not hurt you in that category and should throw in 50 penalty minutes for good measure. Vanek is an excellent option as your top left winger.
Jason Pomminvile (RW) – Pominville was one of the most disappointing players in fantasy last year, and found himself in the free agent pool in many leagues by the end of last season. I think his 80 point season in 2007-08 was an anomaly, and he should settle into his role as a 65 point player. Due to his lack of production in other categories, he is a weak second right winger or strong third option.
Tim Connolly (C) – When he played, Connolly was the Sabres best player last year. The problem is he is made of glass and does not play that often. He has missed 148 games over the last three seasons. If you are a risky manager, Connolly has the potential to give you 80 points, 40 penalty minutes and a good plus minus. For those of you with weaker stomachs, look elsewhere to fill out your center slots.
Keep an eye on: Drew Stafford
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Craig Rivet – While not a sexy pick, Rivet should play the point on the powerplay opposite Pominville, which will give him more scoring opportunities than last year when Spacek manned this position. He did manage 24 points in 64 games last year, so 35-40 is not a stretch with increased powerplay time. He will also contribute somewhere in the neighbourhood of 150 penalty minutes, so he provides excellent value.
Keep an eye on: Steve Montador (PIMS)
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Ryan Miller – Miller is one of the more difficult goaltenders to project. You know he is good for wins, save percentage and goals against average, but the shutouts are worrisome. Prior to last season, he only posted 7 shutties in 202 career starts, good for one shutout every 29 games. Last year he increased that total to 5 shutouts in 58 starts, but I would not count on him to duplicate these numbers, especially with the loss of Spacek and Numminen. This would not stop me from drafting Miller, but there are better options out there.
Bonus: At the trade deadline last year, the Sabres shipped Ales Kotalik to Edmonton for a second round pick, and then sent a second rounder to Toronto for Dominic Moore. Moore recorded all of four points in eighteen games with Buffalo. If someone can explain the logic behind this to me, I would appreciate it.