This season, I'm hoping the Buffalo Sabres' defense won't be a problem. The brave return of Teppo Numminen and the acquisition of Craig Rivet give the Sabres that veteran presence that was missing last season.
Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder should remain together as a duo. Hopefully, their play resembles what we saw when the two helped bring the team to the Eastern Conference Final the two previous seasons.
That leaves Jaroslav Spacek, an offensive-minded defenseman, as the only other D-man guaranteed a role. His linemate will either be Andrej Sekera or Mike Weber—assuming that head coach Lindy Ruff realizes both of these men are more talented than Nathan Paetsch.
I'd love to see both in the lineup, but unfortunately that may not happen. If it comes down to one of them, who should it be? Both stepped in and played great hockey near the end of last season, when the Sabres were plagued with injuries to their defensemen.
Sekera is the more offensive of the two, and a great skater. He put up eight points (two goals, six assists) in 37 games last season, which isn't stellar. The kid's young though, and has a lot of great years ahead of him.
Weber is a physical player who throws the big hits. I believe that he is more valuable than Sekera. He's drawn comparisons to Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins—and that's exactly the kind of defender this team needs.
It really bothers me when guys like Daniel Alfredsson or Jason Spezza skate into the zone uncontested. I can picture Weber just laying these guys flat on their backs. He chipped in with three assists in 16 games last year, and a solid plus-12 rating.
That plus-12 was third on the team, only behind Derek Roy and Jason Pominville, the club's most consistent players last year. That was just in 16 games. What kind of plus-minus rating can be put up over an entire season?
Buffalo already has plenty of offensive-minded defensemen, but they are missing that physical presence. Mike Weber is the solution to that problem, which is why I'd take him ahead of Sekera, if only one can be chosen.
What do you think, Sabres fans?