The Sabres came and went with Thomas Vanek this season. Early on in the season, Vanek came out swinging and was scoring goals and putting up points in flurries. But, once Vanek cooled off a little bit, so did the Sabres. Buffalo was kept out of the playoffs again for the second season in a row, ending the season with a record of 21-21-6.
Buffalo is in a rebuilding stage right now, and there’s no saying where they’re planning on going, and what they’re thinking about doing. Ryan Miller has been hot in the rumor mill as a commodity that Buffalo wouldn’t mind parting ways with to bring in some fresh talent. The defense in Buffalo isn’t helping the former Vezina Trophy winner much either, so maybe it’s time to move Miller and bring in a solidified d-man to help bring this organization back to what it was in the late 90′s. Yeah, you all remember Dominik Hasek, right?
Thomas Vanek led the Sabres with 20 goals this season, and Tyler Ennis finished the season with a total of 21 assists to lead the team. Ryan Miller ended the season with a career worst 2.81 goals against average, and a save percentage of .915% which is the worst he’s owned since the 2007-2008 season. Miller also failed to record a shutout this season, which is the first time since his second season in the league he went an entire season without a shutout, and he only played three games in that 2003-2004 season.
Head coach Lindy Ruff was fired on February 20th this season. Ruff has spent a total of 25 years in the Buffalo organization including 10 as a player in the 80′s and 15 years as the head coach. Ruff was the longest tenured coach in the NHL prior to being let go. Ron Rolston was announced as his replacement for the remainder of the season, and will stay on board as the head coach for next season as well. Ruff was given the coaching job in Dallas.
Buffalo owns the second worst power-play in the NHL, only Winnipeg was worse than Buffalo’s horrendous 14.1% powerless-play. The penalty kill wasn’t any better ranking at number 26 in the league with a percentage of 79.2%. The special teams have to be better in Buffalo, too many games are decided while one team is on the man advantage.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo trades Ryan Miller, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he stays in Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth signed a two year extension two weeks ago to back Miller up. Cody Hodgson ends the season as a restricted free agent as well and the Sabres have to be able to retain him.
The Sabres have a lot of rebuilding to do in the next couple months, but you have to start somewhere. Rebuilding isn’t done over night, and I don’t expect the Sabres to get better for a few seasons, but it will come if it is done correctly. Patience is key in professional sports, and Buffalo has been patient thus far, but how long will they stand for a team that can’t get into the playoffs?