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Sabres Conclude Preseason

Admittedly I haven't watched much of the preseason. I was glued to the opening game against Carolina as it was the first glimpse of NHL action since last season, but in the games since I had only caught bits and pieces. That is, until today, I had the opportunity to stream the exhibition match against Adler Mannheim and here are my observations of where the Sabres are at entering the regular season.

First off, anyone who happens to follow me on twitter (and if you aren't already shame on you) would know that I thought Tyler Ennis was the best player on the ice today. Ennis was using his speed to take pucks to the net and open up space for his teammates. He finished the game with two goals and a beautiful assist to Ville Leino in the third period. Tyler and Leino looked so comfortable playing together you would have thought they had been line-mates for several years. I'm not going to predict point totals or tell you Ennis is going to be an all-star this season, but I'd expect a sizeable jump in his numbers this season, the sky is the limit for this kid.

Jhonas Enroth looked solid in the pipes. Going into the game I was hoping to keep Mannheim off the board entirely, but the three goals against weren't an indictment of Enroth. The first was part luck/skill and great hand eye coordination as a puck was batted out of the air to put Mannheim on the board. The latter two were on the power-play, and at the end of the day Adler Mannheim is a professional hockey team so you'd expect they could generate offense with an additional player on the ice no matter how solid Buffalo plays defensively. Jhonas did make some nice saves, and I think we can all agree we have a legitimate backup goaltender going into this season. I'd like to see Jhonas get 25 starts, keep Miller fresh for the post-season.

I touched on Ville Leino earlier, from what I've seen of him in the preseason I think he'll take some time to adjust to the defensive aspect of playing center but his offensive game is going to marvel Sabres fans at times. Let's just hope he can avoid the dry spells he suffered from in Philadelphia. As for the other new additions, Robyn Regehr was exactly as you'd expect. Very rarely do you notice him on the ice, and that's a good thing. Christian Ehrhoff has been quite the opposite, constantly getting the face time on camera, usually in celebration, as he led the Sabres in scoring during the preseason. Ehrhoff is the best power-play quarterback the Sabres have had since Brian Campbell, and he's better than Campbell defensively.

In the limited preseason action that I did see, I didn't really notice Gragnani, Weber, or Sekera distancing themselves from one another. Sekera seemed to start off the preseason the slowest, but may have finished the strongest. Gragnani looked better earlier in the preseason than the last few tilts, and Weber was probably the most consistent of the group. As defensemen 5-7 in the Sabres pecking order, one of them is going to sit in the stands on a nightly basis. Weber stands to see the most ice time based on his style of playing being dramatically different than that of Sekera and Grags. I expect Sekera to start the season as the sixth d-man, with Grags getting spot starts to keep the rotation fresh. This is the deepest defense corp the Sabres have had post-lockout.

Thankfully the Sabres are relatively injury free. Jochen Hecht is nursing a wonky skull, but other than that they are healthy. Luke Adam has impressed enough to stick for now, and if his play today is any indication he'll be here for the long haul. The puck drops in Helsinki on Friday and I'm eager to see this team in meaningful games to see if they can meet the lofty expectations the fans and the front office have for this team.

Brandon Hess

Follow me on twitter @SabreHess


  1. I like what Darcy Regeir has done with your team this off-season. He might have overpaid for a few players but he has definitely added quality. With the likes of Regehr(season hasn't started and I already miss him), Ehrhoff and Leino (even though a tad overpaid) Buffalo should challenge for the division.

  2. Leino is only overpaid before the season starts, Buffalo is paying him on what they think he'll be, not on what he was last year. If he produces on the ice, he'll be paid appropriately. Only time will tell on Ville, but I'd rather have him at similar money over Connolly.

  3. Oh I will definitely give you that. Leino is definitely an upgrade over an injured Connolly. Let us see how he shapes up over the season.