Comparing the Current Sabres Post-Lockout to 2005-2006
Following the 2004-2005 lockout, the Buffalo Sabres had arguably two of their best and certainly most entertaining seasons in 05-06 and 06-07. One of the reasons the Sabres had some of the success they did was because of the infusion of young talent following the lockout. Players like Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Brian Campbell and Thomas Vanek along with veterans Daniel Briere and Chris Drury combined to lead the Sabres to their first 100 point season in 23 years and a fourth place finish in the Eastern Conference in 05-06, only to be followed by their only President’s Trophy in 06-07. Buffalo advanced to the conference finals both seasons before bowing out to the Hurricanes in seven games and Senators following. Changes in the rules following the lockout led to a more exciting game, more scoring opportunities and more goals. With more open ice the young talent was able to develop quickly and put up production rapidly.
Since then, Buffalo has been syphoning off the talent from the 2005-2006 roster. Changes to the roster have been made, and a few of the young stars from seven years ago still remain. Most notably Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Roy was traded this offseason to Dallas, Campbell was traded in 2008 to San Jose. The rules have become more tight as we’ve inched our way back to the, “clutch and grab” style of play. Buffalo has adapted slightly to the new style of play adding veteran toughness with Steve Ott and John Scott. They had to get tougher, especially after the Boston Bruins debacle where Milan Lucic ran goalie Ryan Miller. Trading Roy was necessary, but at the same time created a lack of scoring which will ultimately be filled by young guys, once again.
Buffalo fans are clamoring for a repeat of the 2005-2006 season. Once again the Sabres are loaded with some you talent who decided to stay in North America and play with the AHL Rochester Americans. Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb and first round pick Zemgus Girgensons are all playing in Rochester this season with the NHL still locked out. They’re all expected to make major contributions to the Sabres whenever the season starts up again. It would be a little outrageous to think they would have the same amount of production as guys like Roy, Pominville and Vanek did. However, Foligno had 13 points in 14 games with Buffalo in 2011-2012, Hodgson had 41 points in a combined 83 games between Vancouver and Buffalo. Girgensons was selected 14th overall and forfeited his NCAA eleigibility at Vermont in order to play with Rochester. Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff has to hope they all gel together and really develop a great chemistry that will transfer over nicely to the NHL. In order for the Sabres to go deep into the playoffs these young prospects will have to produce quickly and often.