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Buffalo Sabres 2010-2011 Training Camp Preview | SabresOnline.com

Buffalo Sabres 2010-2011 Training Camp Preview

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There has been some movement on the Sabres roster this offseason. It includes the addition of veteran presence Rob Niedermayer, and defensemen Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn. Some spots on the Sabres are up for grabs for younger players.

Listed below are the players virtually set in stone to be on the roster by the season opener against Ottawa on October 8, barring further player movement on free agency and the trade front.

Forwards (11)

Tim Connolly
Tyler Ennis
Paul Gaustad
Mike Grier
Jochen Hecht
Patrick Kaleta
Rob Niedermayer
Jason Pominville
Derek Roy
Drew Stafford
Thomas Vanek

Defensemen (5)

Jordan Leopold
Steve Montador
Shaone Morrisonn
Tyler Myers
Craig Rivet

Goaltenders (2)

Ryan Miller
Patrick Lalime

During the Sabres jersey unveiling, there were hints as to who holds a spot with the 2010-2011 Buffalo Sabres. In addition to the players mentioned above, Matt Ellis, Cody McCormick, Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera, and Chris Butler were introduced with the rest of the team. At least to start, this is most likely the make-up of the team.

All told, it appears two forward and two defense spots are up for grabs. One starting spot is available for both positions. Here is an overview of who has a shot to make the lineup and who needs to make a big push in camp to hold a starting spot (alphabetical order).

Forwards

Luke Adam

Adam can be the dark horse candidate to make the roster with a bigger frame at 6’2” 203, and a scoring touch with 49 goals and 90 points in 56 games in the QMJHL. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract this spring, and don’t be surprised if you see Adam for at least a few games this season in a Sabres sweater.

Matt Ellis

Re-signed by the Sabres because of his unmatched work ethic, Ellis has been a reliable addition to the fourth line for the past couple seasons. Ellis however, will be challenged by rookies Gerbe and Mancari for a roster spot and the sheer numbers at forward for the Sabres could mean Ellis will be a veteran presence in Portland.

Nathan Gerbe

Out of all the young guns in camp, Gerbe has the best shot to make the starting lineup. His play in the playoff series against Boston with 1 goal and 2 points in two games, along with his natural goal-scoring ability, should translate into a starting roster spot. His lack of size is his only drawback, but he plays big in important games and is one of the fastest and most talented players in the Sabres’ system.

Mark Mancari

This camp may be Mancari’s last chance to finally come up to the big club full-time. With a big body (6’3” 225) and scoring ability (74 points in 74 games last season in the AHL), there is a good chance Mancari can at least grab the 13th forward spot.

He needs to use his body to his advantage on a consistent basis as he has done in the AHL to set himself apart from the likes of McCormick who does not have a real scoring touch. With a one-year deal signed this summer, and this being his sixth training camp, this may be his last shot.

Cody McCormick

Another big man at 6’3” could see playing time on the fourth line and could grab the last forward spot. Challenging Zdeno Chara in Game 5 of the series against the Bruins could only help his chances of claiming a roster spot.

Mark Parrish

The 33-year old Parrish is at Sabres training camp on a tryout basis to try to revive his career. The six-time 20 goal scorer has to have a great camp to have any shot of holding off Gerbe and the other young forwards for a spot with the Sabres. At the very least, Parrish could serve as forward depth in Portland.

Defensemen

Chris Butler

Butler had a down year this past season although his offensive production was up from his rookie year (21 points in 59 games compared to 6 points in 47 games his rookie season). His plus/minus plummeted from a plus-11 to a minus-15 and defense matters first to Lindy Ruff. Butler needs to regain his form before another defensemen vaults him on the depth chart.

Marc-Andre Gragnani

Powerplay quarterback” could be the title given to Gragnani who has anchored the powerplay in the minors very effectively with 146 points in 220 games, along with 15 powerplay goals. His offensive prowess may vault Gragnani into the starting lineup based solely upon the Sabres powerplay difficulties. However, it has become more difficult for Gragnani to start as he will miss four to six weeks with a grade-two knee sprain.

Andrej Sekera

Sekera ended up in coach Lindy Ruff’s doghouse along with Chris Butler at the end of last season but did play in all six playoff games while Butler did not after rotating with his teammate to end the year. With the Sabres searching for a powerplay quarterback in their system, Sekera needs to find his offensive game he had in juniors to firmly entrench himself in the top six defense corps.

Mike Weber

With a one-year contract and a multitude of defensemen in the Sabres system, Weber needs to make a push in camp. This past year in the AHL, Weber was a plus-18 while racking up 153 penalty minutes. The Sabres could really use his physical presence in the lineup. Weber has stated that he has no plans to play in the AHL this year and that may mean a tough decision for the coaches come the end of camp.


Outlook

I believe that Weber will claim the last starting defenseman spot. As for the seventh defenseman, it is pretty much a toss-up between Butler and Sekera, a battle in which I believe Sekera will eventually win because he is more versatile and can also play forward. All of the defenseman I mentioned will have to go through waivers before playing in Portland, so the Sabres could potentially lose some of these players. Lindy Ruff announced to the media that the Sabres will start the season with eight defensemen.

In terms of forward, Gerbe is far and away the best in terms of skill set, and he scores goals. Drew Stafford should be careful with some talented forwards in camp such as Adam and Zack Kassian, who is currently without a contract.

Kassian has showed his toughness in the first scrimmage by nailing Tyler Myers in the corner who went down hard, and then following that by scoring a beautiful shootout goal after the scrimmage, beating Patrick Lalime cleanly on the backhand.

McCormick should finish ahead of Ellis on the depth chart as he brings more size, but he will get a run for his money from Mark Mancari.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

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