Sabres look to turn things around in '03-'04

After a disappointing year, the Sabres look to rebound and emerge from their past with new ownership and a few new faces in the lineup.For the first time in a long while the Sabres have finally made some significant changes this offseason. I will attempt to construct what the lineup might look like but, it is all merely speculation. Here goes….


Hecht – Drury – Satan

Pyatt – Briere – Dumont

Kotalik – Brown – Afinogenov

Boulton – Connolly / Mair – Milley

Extras – Derek Roy, Chris Taylor and Jason Botterill


Zhitnik – Kalinin

McKee – Talinder

Delmore – Campbell

Extras – James Patrick, Joel Bouchard and Rory Fitzpatrick





This being said, I know the line combos will probably change, especially with young Derek Roy almost making the team last year. The addition of Drury and Briere will finally give the Sabres what they have needed since Pat Lafontaine left: a center that can playmake and score. I believe the Sabres have had the young talent for a couple of years now in players such as Connolly, Pyatt, Kotalik and Afinogenov. Hopefully, with the additions the Sabres have made on offence, this will push these younger guys to step up, especially Connolly. If they don’t come into their own this year, it may be their last with the club.

The Sabres success in years past was based largely on their defensive prowess. Hasek did make the defense better, but he didn’t do it alone. The Sabres have a few real up and comers on the defense with the likes of Kalinin, Talinder and Campbell. All three made big enough strides last year to warrant the Sabres parting with Rhett Warrener. The aquisition of Andy Delmore will be a huge upgrade for the powerplay. C’mon this was a team that had Connolly playing the point, hence his horrific +/- rating last year. It seemed the Sabres were giving up a shorthanded goal every other powerplay. Delmore will likely be the fifth or sixth defenseman on this team, mainly because of all the others simply being less of a defensive liability.

You will be hard pressed to find a team in the league as stacked as the Sabres are in net. Albeit they are all young, each one has the ability to blossom into an All-Star. Patience with Biron is stating to wear thin, even though the Sabres didn’t put a good team in front of him last year. We all saw Noranen and Miller struggle last year, but we also saw flashes of brilliance. Miller probably has the biggest upside of the three and it will be interesting to see how this three man race plays out over the course of the year. What you won’t see is Biron traded, at least not until the end of season. If the Sabres bomb again, which I don’t think will happen, we could see him being shipped elsewhere. The Sabres do not want to go into this year with Noranen and Miller being one and two. The Sabres have put too much into this season to go into this year without a proven goaltender. If Biron was traded and Noranen and Miller swoon, as they did in last year in certain games, Regier can kiss his job goodbye. That’s why it won’t happen.

All this being said I believe the Sabres have made big strides this off season. This doesn’t mean I think they will win it all, but they will definetely be a better team. I say look for them to make the playoffs next year. If the Sabres can build off the second half of last season, they will make it.

As it seems there are no other Sabre fans that write on this site, I will look to contribute more in the future. Enjoy…..

16 Responses to Sabres look to turn things around in '03-'04

  1. OldNord says:

    Excellent article, realistic with no bullshit trades in it, like if we get Mr.Bungle the lines will looks like…

    Good job!

  2. bignorth says:

    Thank You! Wow, what does it take to get noticed around the NHL? These guys aren’t throwing a bunch of money around like the wings, avs, and rangers. They know what it takes to build a strong team. Yeah, they’re not gonna win the cup this year, but 5 years down the road, they’re gonna be one hell of a team to beat. They have a lot of young talent, and i mean a lot. I’ve been following Connelly since he was drafted 3-4 years ago. The reason I’ve been following him is because he’s the only guy in the draft that caught my eye. He’s got moves that knock you off your seat. The only reason he hasn’t been noticed is because he’s never had anybody to play with, until now…The Sabres have other young players that are on the brink of kicking everybody’s ass! Kotilik, Pyatt, Hecht, Drury (Remember him? He won the Calder Trophy at one time…)Briere, Dumont,Afinogenov, Delmore, Talinder, not to mention Biron in net and Ryan Miller(he only holds a record in the NCAA for most shut-outs in a season)

    Everyone has looked past this team because they haven’t performed well since they lost the cup to Dallas, but now they’ve rebounded and are going to make some big strides in the NHL. Don’t look past this team in two or three years when you’re choosing your fantasy teams!

  3. Hockey_Fan says:

    That lineup is scary. Good job with the article.

  4. Lint07 says:

    I really like the acquisitions of Drury, Briere and Delmore.

    The Sabres will be a fun team to see next year!

  5. cwthrash says:

    They have the talent to turn some heads this year. But it looks kinda obvious that consistency could be a problem, a big problem. Not just from the young players either. A few of those guys with some years under their belt have not always been the most consistent of players. Obviously, I can’t say right now that this will be the case. Just putting a realistic spin on the possibilities.

    One thing I can say is that they will be a dangerous team to play, given the pieces they have. If they can put it together early enough, the playoffs are a possibility. My gut tells me that there will still be some growing pains with this team though. An enigma they will remain for a while.

  6. Primis says:

    Good article! We could use more articles on teams like the Sabres…

    I like the changes the Sabres made this offseason. Especially if Delmore pulls it all together. And if the Sabres can hang onto all 3 goalies for just a little bit longer (like you said) I think they’ll only get better because they’ll have a goalie to dangle in trade to maybe get another forward or blueliner.

    It’s gonna’ be tempting for them to move a goalie now probably rather than later though. Especially with the number of teams on the prowl for a goalie. But yeah it’s too early for them to take a gamble like moving Biron and then have Noranen slump and Miller not catch on right away.

    — Primis.

  7. OldNord says:

    They have the guy former first round pick by Ottawa in the Varada trade and the european they pick this year. Forgot thair names.

    They will be good for sure, the Habs always had tough time with them in the past two years. This two teams will grow together in the years to come.

    You are tha author of the article, just not the same name. Good job again.

  8. WeStSiDe says:

    Buffalo will be a good team, but I dont think they are ready for the playoffs yet. Give them another year at least. They just have to keep building. Not done yet.

  9. movingfire says:

    Connolly is an overrated bum, that is why his +/- sucks.

  10. Aetherial says:

    Good article.

    I am not sure if they are a playoff team this year with teams like The Rangers looking better and Boston probably not going to repeart the debacle of last season…

    They ARE going in the right direction though and they will definitely be a handful to play against. I like what the team has quietly accomplished. It is good for the NHL.

  11. Sabres1 says:

    Excellent! We need more Sabres articles (although the trend here seems to be the more written about one team the less we get from it). I still say coaching is a major concern to me. I have always resented the fact that Ted Nolan got canned after winning coach of the year. I suspect that a solid team liek the one we have now could use a little tweek in the coaching area.

    As for all the hasek trouble in detroit… they get what they deserve. Not to say the man isnt a great goalie but I never liked his attitude. He’d get lit up in a playoff game and then start feining injuries the next day. It would be tragic if they dealt Joseph and he got injured and went out for the season… don’t you think?

  12. Lint07 says:

    They have a guy called Manny Legace over there… they’de be just fine.

  13. SDG says:

    Connolly still has a lot of untapped potential. We can thank the Islanders for screwing him up. They brought him up way to soon, messing up his development. He should have been left in the minors for at least one to two years. Hopefully he can regain some of his promise from years past, or that deal was a total bust. Pyatt looks to be maturing nicely though.

  14. Sabres1 says:

    Legace is an excellent back up but hardly comparable to Hasek or Cujo and a 50-50 man for starting long term. Bottom line is Detroit issues lavish deals to trya nd buy the cup every year and it’s finally come back to bite them. I would love to see them deal Joseph and then lose hasek toinjury or legal woes in his homeland. It’s called Karma and it’s a bitch.

  15. movingfire says:

    I will give U that. Pyatt seems to be the real deal…We shall see about both of them in another couple of years.

  16. Leaf_Expert says:

    Drury-Briere-Satan looks pretty dangerous to me….

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