Monday, August 25, 2014

2015 Pool Projections: Buffalo

In Buffalo, the Sabres have done a lot of tinkering with their line-up and it doesn't look like losing will be tolerated by the team's new ownership.  Yes, the Sabres did not fare well in the 2014 season, but with a number of draft picks, some more money in the coffers and brand new management at the helm, there is a overwhelming feeling that the Sabres may mean business, which raises an eyebrow or two amongst the hockey pool community.

There is only so far that this team, as it stands right now, will go, but they are at least putting the rest of the league on notice that they are going to push back this season.

The real gamble with the Sabres will be with their youth, which they do have lots of, including the number two pick overall in this past Summer's draft, Sam Reinhart.  How are these kids going to fare against those veteran clubs when it comes to scoring, let alone winning?  Here's how I'm projecting the club to go this season.

Forwards 14/15 Proj Cap Hit Defense 14/15 Proj Cap Hit Goaltenders 14/15 Proj Cap Hit
Matt Moulson 55 5.000 Tyler Myers 35 5.500 Michal Neuvirth 35 2.500
Tyler Ennis 50 4.600 Andrej Meszaros 25 4.125 Jhonas Enroth 25 1.250
Cody Hodgson 50 4.250 Josh Gorges 15 3.900
Brian Gionta 35 4.250 Andre Benoit 15 0.800
Drew Stafford 35 4.000 Rasmus Ristolainen 10 0.925
Chris Stewart 30 4.150 Mike Weber 10 1.667
Zemgus Girgensons 30 0.894
Marcus Foligno 25 1.875
Johan Larsson 15 0.763
Brian Flynn 10 0.638
Cody McCormick 5 1.500
Matt Ellis 5 0.550
TOTAL 52.220
Sam Reinhart 40 0.925 Mark Pysyk 10 0.870 Matthew Hackett 5 0.751
Mikhail Grigorenko 35 0.925 Tyson Strachan 5 0.650
Patrick Kaleta 5 1.250 Chad Ruhwedel 5 0.650
Zac Dalpe 5 0.700 Nicolas Deslauriers 5 0.638
Luke Adam 5 0.650
Phil Varone 5 0.587

First Round Picks

There is nothing about this Sabres team that says it's ready to explode onto the scene and take everyone by storm.  Some mid-range players are going to get extra playing time, but no one is really going to see some 1st round-like numbers in Buffalo.  Mid-range talent playing with mid-range talent won't add up well for our purposes.

For those interested, the first Sabre taken in last year's draft was taken in the 3rd round and he is no longer on the team.  It may be a long wait for any Sabres this year.

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

As much as I haven't projected him to have much of a breakout season, centre Cody Hodgson has the most potential to, given that he is a lock for the roster, where a couple of their prospects still have to do all the preseason leg work to get in there.  Hodgson returns as the number one centre on the team and he will have a new winger on his line in Matt Moulson, but this is a team that is still lacking in identity and even though the projected roster was filled out a lot faster than previous years with an influx of new money, that didn't translate into better projections from me.  I think Hodgson still has the potential, but it may be another year before he busts out.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

In a 14-round draft, like I'll be hosting, you may not see a Sabres forward taken until the halfway mark, where Matt Moulson may finally crack the draft list, as I have him tops of the team going into the season.  Tyler Ennis, Brian Gionta and Drew Stafford should round out the veteran players, while the 2nd overall pick in the Entry Draft, Sam Reinhart, may crack the draftable forwards this year, but I wouldn't put too much stock in him, because he won't have the same kind of help that Nathan MacKinnon did in Colorado last season.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

Offense will not necessarily be the name of the game for the blueliners in Buffalo this season, but you should be able to find a couple of reasonable sources of points, if you're really digging.  Tyler Myers and Andrej Meszaros should still be good for points, but since the offense up front is going to struggle, I wouldn't count on these two to do it by themselves.  There are a couple of outside gambles, if you deem them worthy, as Andre Benoit came from a powerhouse Avalanche team or even youngster Rasmus Ristolainen is still gaining some praise as a potential point-getter.

Goaltending Situation

The dream for the Jhonas Enroth in his time in Buffalo was to be a number one guy for the Sabres, but even with Ryan Miller gone from the picture, I don't think it's necessarily a lock.  Rather, I think there will be a decent split of time in the crease there and I think newcomer, Michal Neuvirth, will outplay Enroth in the end, earning a few more points.  Whoever takes the most points is definitely up for debate, but given the state of the team, they won't be able to run a straight number one all year long.

Team To Pick From Late?

If you have decided to take any Sabres at all in this volatile time for the organization, you better be getting them late anyways.  I wouldn't be expecting any bargains from Buffalo, unless Reinhart was to blow off the doors and surprise the hell out of everyone in the Atlantic Division.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Salary CapAn influx of new money hasn't changed the dynamic of being a possible budget team in the 2015 season.  The Sabres did get some big contracts off their books, which is the biggest reason why they are closer to the floor than the ceiling, but there wasn't a great deal of talent on the market to poach, nor did they have the reputation to land what was out there.  The Sabres are going into September with 21 players on their projected roster and $15.5 million left in cap space.


Nothing to report from the Sabres camp.  They should be going into the season with a full compliment of healthy bodies.

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