Buffalo Sabres preview

Overview: Every team in the NHL should follow the model of the Buffalo Sabres.

No matter how many superstars they lose, they are always developing more to replace them by drafting well and making shrewd trades. They don’t go out and sign a big-name free agent who’s going to cripple the team because of the cap hit. They don’t bother to get loud-mouth players coveted by other teams. And they don’t need to tank for a few years to get #1 draft picks.

Instead, they remain competitive, and are always a threat to win the division.

Best offseason move: Signing Rob Niedermayer. They signed him for a short term (one year) and low amount ($1.15 million). That’s pretty good for an experienced third-line player who can kill penalties and will get you about 10 goals a year. And if needed, he can move up to the second line to help offensively (or let the offensive players be more free to not worry about the defence).

Worst offseason move: Signing Shaone Morrison. Don’t get me wrong. Morrison is a fine player. But he’s not a $2 million a year player, especially as the #5 or #6 defenceman on the team.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Tim Connolly for the Lady Byng.

Pool pick: Thomas Vanek. He had an off-year last year, but he should be able to improve on his 28 goals and 53 points from last season. Look for him to finish with about 70. Who to stay away from: Tyler Myers. Myers had a great rookie season, finishing with 48 points. But he’ll probably suffer from a sophomore slump, as a lot of rookie defencemen do.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Buffalo Sabres goalies since 1970?

Best hall of fame choice: The best shot from the current crop of Sabres would have to be Ryan Miller. He already has 187 career wins, and is only 30 years old. To reach 400 wins, he would have to win about 26 games a season for the next eight years. He’s already got the Vezina trophy, and was named the most valuable player at the 2010 Olympics, leading the States to a silver medal.

Blog to follow: Die by the Blade

My Prediction: Second in the Northeast, fourth in the East.

Famous celebrity from that city: Beth Phoenix

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