**Rating system for “Plus/Minus” Series**
+3 = Major Upgrade
+2 = Upgrade
+1 = Slight Upgrade
0 = Same as prior year
-1 = Slight Dowgrade
-2 = Downgrade
-3 = Major Downgrade
Team: Buffalo Sabres
2010-11: 96 points, #7 in Eastern Conference
Returning: Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth
Departures: Patrick Lalime
The Sabres have the same tandem for 2011-12 as they did for 2010-11. It just so happens that it is one of the best in the NHL, and will be for a long time.
Returning: Tyler Myers, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, Shaone Morrisson, Marc-Andre Gragnani
Arrivals: Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr
Departures: Steve Montador, Chris Butler
The Buffalo Sabres drastically altered their top 4 on defense with the acquisitions of Ehrhoff and Regehr. They go from having a below average D corps to one of the best top 2 pairs in the East. The Sabres are currently over the cap, so it is expected that they will either trade or demote the disappointing Shaone Morrisson.
Returning: Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes, Jochen Hecht, Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe, Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Matt Ellis
Arrivals: Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik
Departures: Tim Connolly, Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer
There are still some moves to make up front because of Buffalo being over the cap with 2 RFAs to sign, but regardless of how it plays out, the Sabres will be entering the 2011-12 season with a slightly improved group of forwards. Leino is an upgrade as a top 6 forward over Connolly, and Grier and Niedermayer are replaceable from within. Expect one of Kotalik/Gaustad/Hecht/Boyes to get traded in a salary dump and for one of their top forward prospects (Kassian, Adam, Foligno) to step in.
OVERALL RATING: +4
2011-12 Prediction: #4-#6 in Eastern Conference
The Buffalo Sabres are no longer handcuffed by spending restrictions, so it won’t be long before this is one of the best teams in the entire NHL.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.