Vanek at right wing could provide balance

With development camp set to open next week and training camp around the corner, the Buffalo Sabres roster still remains in a state of flux.

The acquisition of Steve Ott and Adam Pardy stripped another center off a roster that was already in need of an upgrade at the position. Although the trade further depleted the Sabres down the middle, it wasn’t as if Darcy Regier was treating getting a number one center with low priority.

In all fairness, acquiring Ott was a great hockey trade. Despite having a need for center depth, Roy was an expendable piece for an organization with an abundance of undersized forwards. With Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and even Dan Catenacci under contract, the Sabre won’t miss another small forward. While Roy’s departure does create a vacancy, it provides the infusion of size and grit the Sabres had been searching for.

The Sabres could be served well to try Thomas Vanek at right wing.

Losing out on an offensive center is not a good situation for a team that struggled to score in 2011-12, Ott does provide the Sabres with a flexible option. While the goal to acquire a true center is still the ultimate goal for the Sabres, it won’t be the easiest feat to accomplish. In addition to their deep defensive corps, the Sabres are overloaded on the left side at forward.

Ott is one of those left wingers, but he is capable of winning faceoffs and I fully expect to see him on the ice for defensive zone draws on penalty kills and at even strength. If absolutely necessary, Ott could fill a role as Buffalo’s third line center; unlike Ville Leino, he is capable of playing the position.

The true solution, in my opinion, is to keep Ott on the wing to take advantage of his offensive skillset. Yes, he is capable of producing points. The key lies with Thomas Vanek. Continue reading

Tropp recall keeps sandpaper in Sabres’ lineup

With Cody McCormick out for tonight’s game against New Jersey – and potentially more games depending on the severity of his injury – the Sabres recalled Corey Tropp from Rochester.

This was the easy choice for Darcy Regier to make. Tropp had a fine showing in his first four NHL contests and even managed to find the score sheet with a goal and an assist in his first call up. Many fans were clamoring for Zack Kassian to be the replacement for McCormick, but Tropp was the right call.

Considering there isn’t much information out there regarding McCormick’s injury, it is impossible to speculate how much time he will miss. For all we know, he will be back on the wing for Friday’s game. Worst case is that he misses extended time and the Sabres are without their primary tough guy. Obviously the biggest issue that would impact is the expected response from the Sabres when the Bruins roll into town next Wednesday. While Tropp isn’t afraid to drop his gloves, he is not the fighter that McCormick is. Continue reading

Kaleta suspension creates balance with Sabres lines

Losing Patrick Kaleta did not seem to be the type medicine a slumping Sabres team needed. However, it seems as if the line jumble created after the suspension may have been exactly what the doctor ordered.

Brad Boyes and Nathan Gerbe could be seeing a lot more time together in the future.

Losing Kaleta forced Buffalo to recall Corey Tropp from Rochester and move Brad Boyes to the wing with Nathan Gerbe and Paul Gaustad. Tropp skated with Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick. Tropp was effective in a limited role and should see a few more minutes over the next three games.

Boyes stood out more in his new role than Tropp did. Obviously he is playing in a more prominent role both on the power play and even strength. But he certainly looked right at home with two players who are more offensively gifted than his previous linemates. Continue reading