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Forwards This Season 2021-22


GASabresIUFAN
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I'm pretty sure who is making the team out of camp, but what the line combos are and who plays where is anyone's guess.

I'm 100% sure the following will be in the lineup opening night (if healthy) - Skinner, KO, VO, Girgensons, Mitts, Cozens, Asplund, Thompson, Bjork and Hinostroza.  That 10 jobs down.

I also think R2 did enough last spring to secure his spot.  He also is one our more current dynamic forwards.  

That leaves a bunch of guys fighting for 2 jobs.  Eakin, Caggiula, Hayden and MacInnis.  Eakins "big" contract and proven faceoff skills probably wins the 4th center job, but I can see both MacInnis and Hayden giving him a run for his money.  I'm not a big Caggiula fan, but KA seems to be.  He also probably makes the team.

Other then Quinn, I don't see any other prospect who could push for a job in Buffalo this season.  I can JJP, Murray, and Weissbach getting look see at some point this season.  Murray maybe longer if we need more physical play.  

The last question is Jack.  IMHO he starts the season on IR (unless traded earlier).  A trade likely includes a contract or two back.  It will be interesting to see how this swould effect this group.

Based on who is here today I'd project a lineup like this

Asplund Mitts Olofsson

Skinner R2 Thompson

Bjork Cozens Okposo

Girgensons Eakin Hinostroza

Caggiula

Cozens is the 3C right now because of his inexperience and falloff late last year.  However, I can see this line developing into our physical shutdown line that adds more and more O as the season progresses.  I also don't think Cozen's offense is as developed as R2 and Mitts.  I've "loaded up" the top 2 lines with the 6 biggest offensive threats our youth roster has.  I trust Mitts and Asplund defensively which is why they are on my top line.  Hopefully Thompson uses his size more this coming season giving the 2nd a more physical presence.

Overall not a horrible group and if Mitts, Cozens, Thompson, Asplund and R2 can build on last last season, then we might have something at least on offense.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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6 minutes ago, Weave said:

No.  It’s a horrible group.  Has 32nd place written all over it.

That's a tad overly pessimistic.

 

At minimum our forwards are inexperienced and young and not up to the task most nights.

At best they could be a solid group that needs tweaking and a few extra pieces but a solid group nonetheless. 

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1 hour ago, thewookie1 said:

That's a tad overly pessimistic.

 

At minimum our forwards are inexperienced and young and not up to the task most nights.

At best they could be a solid group that needs tweaking and a few extra pieces but a solid group nonetheless. 

Could be is the correct language, but not likely.  It is essentially the same pieces minus Jack and Sam and that group was a 31st place team last season.  

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8 minutes ago, inkman said:

They need a player or 3 from the Eichel trade to get Eakin out of the lineup.  Still disappointed he’s a Sabre.  

I am too, but Eakin is not in the top 10 problems with this team right now. 

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23 minutes ago, Weave said:

Could be is the correct language, but not likely.  It is essentially the same pieces minus Jack and Sam and that group was a 31st place team last season.  

Yes and no.  Hinostroza is the only new player but Girgensons was also gone last year.  However, this is the group minus Reinhart (Jack was out injured) that played significantly better hockey for this team down the stretch.  The roster turnover occurred last season when the kids went from Taxi Squad/limited roles/AHL to contributors once the toxic RK was sent packing.  Gone from last year so far are Sam, Hall, Staal, Sheehan, Reider and Lazar.  That’s 50% of the opening night roster and the only one we’ll miss is Reinhart.  

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2 hours ago, Weave said:

No.  It’s a horrible group.  Has 32nd place written all over it.

Agree.  It looks like the Front Office isn’t even trying, they are waiting for prospects to develop.  The center spline is very poor.  

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26 minutes ago, LabattBlue said:

I am too, but Eakin is not in the top 10 problems with this team right now. 

I have him as problem number 2, right behind goaltending.  He was the worst forward in the NHL last season.  That sounds like a big problem to me. 

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12 players who will be in the lineup ahead of Eakin, guaranteed:

Mitts, Cozens, Olofsson, Bjork, Thompson, R2, Asplund, Okposo, Girgensons, Skinner, Hinostroza, Caggiula

Right now, he's battling with Hayden and maybe McInnes for 13th forward.

The Sabres, minus Eichel, have $38 million in cap space. That's $17 million under the floor. Even if they don't get an NHL forward back in an Eichel trade, it almost guarantees they will be adding one either in a cap dump trade, or a Sheahan-style signing. Or both.

Barring a run of injuries, or a miraculous off-season, Cody Eakin will not be in the starting lineup.

Edited by dudacek
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To the OP, it's too early to project lineups, but there are two things in there that I think are worth chewing on:

Ruotsalanien to centre makes a lot of sense right now. He's been a wing in the NHL so far, but he's a natural centre and all his success in the minors and in Liiga came there.

Kyle Okposo with Cozens is something watch for. The team has a lot invested in Dylan's success. Kyle has evolved into the old pro mentor. Plus Granato showed a predilection to use Kyle in a more offensive role again after Krueger typecasting him solely as a grinder. If not with Dylan, it will be R2 or Casey (or Krebs 😜). Unless we add a Reilly Smith or two, he won't be on the 4th line.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, dudacek said:

12 players who will be in the lineup ahead of Eakin, guaranteed:

Mitts, Cozens, Olofsson, Bjork, Thompson, R2, Asplund, Okposo, Girgensons, Skinner, Hinostroza, Caggiula

Right now, he's battling with Hayden and maybe McInnes for 13th forward.

The Sabres, minus Eichel, have $38 million in cap space. That's $17 million under the floor. Even if they don't get an NHL forward back in an Eichel trade, it almost guarantees they will be adding one either in a cap dump trade, or a Sheahan-style signing. Or both.

Barring a run of injuries, or a miraculous off-season, Cody Eakin will not be in the starting lineup.

The cap issue is a significant one if Jack is traded.  We are at around 63 million with the RFAs signed and JACK. Cap floor is 60 or so.  Remove Jack before the season and you have an $8 mill gap to get just to the floor.  That is a huge crater to fill with some contracts in trade.  This fact is why I'm of the belief that the group we have listed isn't the final group.  I'm praying he uses the cap space to get a goalie (Ben Bishop?) and a veteran center. 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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Might be six or more players that get 20 plus goals. That’s going to be good. I really like the forwards and think they really could be a scoring by committee group. Slot Jack back into line up as just another player and roll with this group as it gets better. ATM line will be facing tougher opposition, and that will be a problem. 

I totally get that they as a group might flop, but I also believe they fit Donny G’s fast moving style. 

 

Not having good goaltending is really going to hurt, though. It will just put more pressure on forwards to produce, and they will get blamed (unjustly) if they can’t compensate for bad goaltending 

 

Im also interested on how the PP will be set up. Casey, Ollie and Dahlin for sure, but who else? 

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2 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Yes and no.  Hinostroza is the only new player but Girgensons was also gone last year.  However, this is the group minus Reinhart (Jack was out injured) that played significantly better hockey for this team down the stretch.  The roster turnover occurred last season when the kids went from Taxi Squad/limited roles/AHL to contributors once the toxic RK was sent packing.  Gone from last year so far are Sam, Hall, Staal, Sheehan, Reider and Lazar.  That’s 50% of the opening night roster and the only one we’ll miss is Reinhart.  

And the new additions plus development of the kids likely does not = Sam+20 games of 70% Jack.

32nd place roster.

Edited by Weave
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4 hours ago, Weave said:

And the new additions plus development of the kids likely does not = Sam+20 games of 70% Jack.

32nd place roster.

I'm still not seeing where the goals are coming given they 29th at 2.46 per game with Reinhart's 25 last season.  That's 18% of your goals scored out the door and replaced with replacement level players like Hinostroza and MacInnis.  

Sure, the younger players could improve but that's always the mantra for rebuilding teams.  Realistically, there are just too many if's and hopefully's this year to have it all come together, notably with the forward group.

Now, if Jack gets dealt for serious NHL ready pieces, this can change.  I'm not banking on that either. 

Edited by SabresVet
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4 hours ago, Weave said:

And the new additions plus development of the kids likely does not = Sam+20 games of 70% Jack.

32nd place roster.

But does it equal or exceed Sam+70% Jack, Staal, Reider, Sheahan and Lazar.  Since 3 of the 4 were negatives to the team, I'd say offensively there is a chance they'll be at least as effective.  

Outside of the offense, the lack of good in zone D and any semblance of goaltending, yes I agree the team is looking at a bottom or near bottom of the league finish.  I wrote earlier that KA has set up DG to fail with his D group and goaltending.

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24 minutes ago, SabresVet said:

I'm still not seeing where the goals are coming given they 29th at 2.46 per game with Reinhart's 25 last season.  That's 18% of your goals scored out the door and replaced with replacement level players like Hinostroza and MacInnis.  

Sure, the younger players could improve but that's always the mantra for rebuilding teams.  Realistically, there are just too many if's and hopefully's this year to have it all come together, notably with the forward group.

Now, if Jack gets dealt for serious NHL ready pieces, this can change.  I'm not banking on that either. 

Haven’t  the younger guys already shown they have improved? Those stats you showed don’t reflect the uptick in scoring that happened with the coaching change. Does anyone have numbers on percentage of goals scored under both coaches? I’d be shocked if it wasn’t at least a goal per game more. And that’s with no Jack in line up. 

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8 minutes ago, bob_sauve28 said:

Haven’t  the younger guys already shown they have improved? Those stats you showed don’t reflect the uptick in scoring that happened with the coaching change. Does anyone have numbers on percentage of goals scored under both coaches? I’d be shocked if it wasn’t at least a goal per game more. And that’s with no Jack in line up. 

Sabres scored 138 goals last season.  66 came in the final 23 games following the end of the losing streak.  That means they scored only 72 in the 33 games prior.  They were shutout 7 times during those 33 games. 

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3 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Sabres scored 138 goals last season.  66 came in the final 23 games following the end of the losing streak.  That means they scored only 72 in the 33 games prior.  They were shutout 7 times during those 33 games. 

I have them at over half a goal (.6) a game better under Granato. That’s improvement It’s also minus Jack. 

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2 hours ago, bob_sauve28 said:

Haven’t  the younger guys already shown they have improved? Those stats you showed don’t reflect the uptick in scoring that happened with the coaching change. Does anyone have numbers on percentage of goals scored under both coaches? I’d be shocked if it wasn’t at least a goal per game more. And that’s with no Jack in line up. 

Under Krueger they scored 2.14 and allowed 2.79.  12 of his 28 games coached Ullmark started

Under Granato it was 2.79 and 3.64.  Ullmark started in 8 of those 28 games. (Adams coached at least one of those games)

Lot of pressure to put on the three young players they're banking on at forward.  Mittelstadt scored at 0.54 ppg in 41 games, Thompson at 0.37 ppg in 38 games, and Cozens was 0.32 in 41 games.  They'll need tremendous improvement from all 3 and I cannot see that happening - at least not this season.

Edited by SabresVet
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15 minutes ago, SabresVet said:

Under Krueger they scored 2.14 and allowed 2.79.  12 of his 28 games coached Ullmark started

Under Granato it was 2.79 and 3.64.  Ullmark started in 8 of those 28 games. (Adams coached at least one of those games)

Lot of pressure to put on the three young players they're banking on at forward.  Mittelstadt scored at 0.54 ppg in 41 games, Thompson at 0.37 ppg in 38 games, and Cozens was 0.32 in 41 games.  They'll need tremendous improvement from all 3 and I cannot see that happening - at least not this season.

A moderate improvement might be fine with them if there is scoring from other players. They have forwards capable of hitting 20 goals. Skinner? Maybe. Oloffson, ya, probably. R2 looks like a sniper, Bjork showed offensive skills, Asplund was on an almost 20 goal pace, If Girgs and Okopso score 10 each then we might be able to light the red light enough to win some games. 

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12 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

Anyone counting on Tage Thompson to be good at hockey is in for a shock. He's a 3/4 line tweener with size and a decent shot, little more. 

Yes and he takes too long to get the shot off.  I'm hoping he can finally get enough strength on that huge frame and that coach DG can get him to put in a solid effort every shift.  Hopefully he plays hard and stays healthy.

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12 hours ago, inkman said:

I have him as problem number 2, right behind goaltending.  He was the worst forward in the NHL last season.  That sounds like a big problem to me. 

Maybe I’m just blocking out how pitiful he was last year. 😂

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