As the playoffs drag on, all that Buffalo Sabre fans can do is speculate about next season. Let's do just that and speculate a different scenario before the playoffs end.
I have said in previous articles that Darcy Regier should either get a Ryan Getzlaf or Patrick Kane or try to grab a young goalie and trade Miller for a top-flight center. But what if instead, the team decides to mostly stand pat?
That would mean that Hodgson would be their first-line center, Roy on the second line, Ennis at the three spot and McCormick rounding it out.
If Hodgson is as good as advertised, then I'll take that. Roy is currently on the second line, but I have a very strong feeling he'll be dealt.
The Ennis line should be set in stone. His wingers, Foligno and Stafford, were on fire. Stafford finally showed why he was a first-round draft pick.
You could have Vanek and Pominville flanking Hodgson. Leino can slot back at wing, where he slots so much better across from Gerbe on either side of Roy. Then you have Kaleta-McCormick-Ellis on the checking line with the current roster.
The only starter from last year that is left off the list is Brad Boyes, who I really don't believe will be retained unless he gets moved off the checking line, where his Roy-like talents were vastly marginalized.
Now, I don't believe Lindy Ruff is a problem, and that's why Roy will probably be dealt. But for now, that's how the forward lines stand for me. It's a very solid group as long as Hodgson can play the role of the top center. If he can ignite Vanek, then it's more than worth it.
On defense, there appear to be eight usable pieces, without including Brennan, for six spots. Myers, Regehr, and Ehrhoff are inked in already.
That leaves, Leopold, Sekera, Weber, McNabb, and Sulzer. Sulzer is a UFA, so, as well as he played during the playoff push, his services aren't entirely necessary. There have been whispers of Sekera being expendable. Either way, the defensive pieces look more than adequate.
Then they have Miller on the back end. He's the simplest piece, and it seems that we won't have a repeat of what happened last year with him.
Can this be the team? Probably not.
As I said earlier, Roy is penciled in right now, but I believe he's gone. I'm not really sold on Gerbe being an everyday player. His size doesn't differ much from Ennis, but Tyler has a far superior skill set.
I don't know how much it will cost to sign Ennis, but I believe it will leave quite a bit of leftover cash to sign a second-line winger.
Still, until free agency hits and the front office makes any possible trades, it's worth taking a look at the pieces Buffalo already has in place.