Somebody posted earlier about being excited about seeing how they lined up on Day 1, just to get a glimpse inside Donnie's mind.
Now you now what they say about the best-laid plans, but I think we did get a glimpse into what the coach is thinking.
1) Dahlin/Clifton, Power/Jokiharju, Samuelsson/Johnson
I think this one probably caught most of us off-guard; don't recall many people thinking Clifton would be skating with the franchise and nobody was champing for more Owen and Henri.
But the more I looked at it, the more it becomes clear that Mule and Johnson is a clear D-zone pairing and OP/HJ is a clear O-zone pairing, with Ras and Clifton very comfortable going either way. To be clear, I suspect there is going to be a lot of mix and match with this group, Donnie said as much. But we are going to see a much more balanced rotation back there when healthy. And there's lot of utility there for matchups if he sticks with this as a base.
And of course there is the obvious L/R combinations. Maybe the opportunity for saying "i told you so" might even bring @Thorny back (hope so).
2) Bryson/Stillman Ryan Johnson/Clague
There's your 4 spare defencemen, all battling with each other for one or 2 spots. Each is being given an equal opportunity, unsupported by a strong partner. May the best man/men win.
3) Tage/Skinner, Cozens/Peterka, Mitts/Tuch
This, by far, was the most intriguing meatball Donnie gave us. I've been convinced Krebs was going to be the 3C and Mitts was going to get moved to the wing. Instead, it looks like the coach is considering 3 scoring lines built around 3 duos known to work well together. If the 3rd wheels step up, this could be exciting.
4) Krebs Girgensons Okposo
Each of these guys got his own line, tied predominantly to AHL vets with outside roster shots. I'm reading this as Granato knowing exactly what he has in each of them, so he's using them to set the tone and test drive guys for the 13th forward and depth call-up roles. It makes me reasonably confident that the trio will be reunited come opening night as his go-to shutdown unit.
5) Greenway Jost Olofsson
Here are your misfit toys, the trio who will definitely be on the starting roster – likely mixed and matched with the three top offensive duos above — it's just not clear yet exactly where. They get to skate together to start with an equal opportunity and will get rotated into their eventual homes as camp progresses.
6) Benson, Kulich Rosen
I honestly didn't see any of these guys on the roster to start the year, but goddamn are they apparently going to get a fair chance. Each one is apparently getting a real shot to replace Quinn in the lineup as they ride shotgun with the Sabres top offensive talents. Maybe one of them will actually take advantage and force his way in.
I'm very excited by what I'm seeing. What did you guys think?