Veterans Have Sabres Sinking to Bottom of Standings

Matt Moulson has been on the forefront of under-performing veteran Sabres. Jen Fuller Getty Images

Matt Moulson has been on the forefront of under-performing veteran Sabres. Jen Fuller Getty Images

It’s December 10th and the Buffalo Sabres are only one point above last place in the NHL right now. Not a great place to be. Many of us, myself especially, had higher expectations for this team up to this point. With the youth and inexperience on this Sabres’ team some struggles were to be expected, but it has been the veterans weighing the team down.

The problem boils down to this.. The Sabres have inconsistent defense, average goaltending, and are trying to get by with only four top six forwards.

O’Reilly, Reinhart, Eichel, and Kane have pulled their weight in the top six, but two more players need to step up.

Matt Moulson has looked lost on an NHL ice this season. Last year the excuse was he needs a good centermen, and earlier this season it was ‘just a slump.’ Moulson is on the wrong side of age 30 and has become a liability on the ice and contractually. Tim Murray will be very glad to send Moulson away when an expansion draft inevitably takes place.

I am not as down on Brian Gionta as the expectations are lower for the 35 year old captain. But at the same time, he does not cut it as a top six forward in the NHL. Gionta is an average role player and a great locker room presence but nothing more at this point of his career. He has too much on his plate right now.

Tyler Ennis has been injured but was underperforming when he was healthy. The Sabres could benefit immensely from a healthy, productive Tyler Ennis.

Zemgus Girgensons has been almost invisible this year being used primarily in the role of third line center. I think he could be an answer as a top six forward if either he or Eichel moves to wing and his production will improve with better linemates.

On defense, we’re watching Risto blossom into a top tier NHL defensemen before our eyes, while Pysyk and McCabe have also proven themselves as a capable defensive pair when partnered together.

Pysyk’s injury has hindered the defensive in a ripple effect. It’s hindered McCabe’s play, due to their familiarity, and thrust Cody Franson into more minutes as well as Coliacovo into a full time role. Once Pysyk is back and Bogosian shakes the rust, I expect the defense to be much better.

On the goaltending front, Ullmark and Johnson have held their own given the circumstance.

As for now, the primary problems for the Sabres seem to be their lack of a true top six and Mark Pysyk’s injury. It is a shame that the veterans are not able to complement the young/new players who are performing highly, but at the same time it is very promising to see the potential for how good this team can be in years to come. I have lowered my expectations for the rest of this season but will still enjoy watching the team grow.