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A look at the Sabres' depth chart: holes in the middle, surplus in the back

The Sabres' acquisition of left wing Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy for center Derek Roy was essentially about swapping grit for playmaking. Ott won't put up nearly a point per game like Roy did, but he also won't put up with opponents getting out of line or teammates taking nights off.

Another aspect of the trade is it seriously altered the Sabres' depth chart.

The Sabres are extremely thin at center, overflowing on defense and well-stocked at left wing. Here is The News' analysis, based on the organization's use of the players. The skaters are listed in terms of ranking at position, not by potential linemates:

Left wing                            Center                        Right wing

Thomas Vanek                    Tyler Ennis                    Jason Pominville

Marcus Foligno                    Cody Hodgson                Drew Stafford

Steve Ott                            Matt Ellis                            Patrick Kaleta

Ville Leino                          Cody McCormick            Corey Tropp

Nathan Gerbe                        Luke Adam            

John Scott

 

Left-handed defensemen        Right-handed defensemen

Christian Ehrhoff                            Tyler Myers

Jordan Leopold

Andrej Sekera

Robyn Regehr

Alexander Sulzer

Mike Weber

Adam Pardy

Brayden McNabb

T.J. Brennan

                Goaltenders

                    Ryan Miller

                    Jhonas Enroth

The middle is definitely concerning for the Sabres, who are open with their desire to add another center. Ennis and Hodgson have talent, but they are just 22 years old and have no experience carrying an NHL top line. For anyone who doesn't think that matters, just look back to the Sabres' struggles at filling the No. 1 role once Chris Drury and Daniel Briere left.

Luke Adam might rebound from his post-All-Star Game benching and second-half demotion, but he is also just 22. Leino has little to no desire to play center. Ott took the second-most faceoffs for Dallas last season, but he has spent nearly all of his career at left wing. He can step into the circle, but he's more comfortable returning to the boards after the puck drops.

"I’ve played 90 percent as a winger in the league, and since junior I’ve been a left winger," Ott said by phone. "Taking faceoffs is obviously adjusting and learning more of the game and finding ways to be on the ice more. If it’s taking faceoffs in the last minute or important draws on penalty kills or power plays, those things add up to being a more versatile player, and that’s something that I’ve always envisioned myself as being more a more complete player as I adjust my career."

Buffalo has extra depth at left wing with the addition of Ott. Vanek is a top-line talent, while Foligno showed top-six status with a stellar run at the end of last season. Ott will get substantial minutes. Leino and Gerbe will need to rebound from disappointing seasons. Scott will dress when the Sabres face the Boston Bruins and other physical teams.

The Sabres seem to have the right mix of skill and truculence at right wing with Pominville and Stafford being complemented by Kaleta and Tropp.

Obviously, left-handed D-men play on the right side, but overloading the left was just to give you a look at the actual depth. The top six figures to be Myers, Ehrhoff, Leopold, Sekera, Regehr and Sulzer. That leaves Weber and Pardy as two reserves. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Buffalo would send Pardy and his $2 million salary to Rochester like the team did with Shaone Morrisonn last year. Darcy Regier says McNabb is penciled in for the Amerks, but he has the talent to play in the NHL and makes players in the top six expendable.

Given the obvious holes and surpluses, it's unlikely the Sabres are done remaking their roster.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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