Buffalo Sabres: 5 Offseason Moves That Can Make Buffalo a Cup Contender in 2012

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Following the NHL‘s year-long lockout during the 2004-05 season, perhaps no franchise was looked upon more favorably than the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres were viewed as a team on the rise that was able to adapt to the NHL’s new style of play quicker and better than anybody else.

The Sabres fell one game short of the Stanley Cup Finals during the 2005-06 season, and if not for a ridiculous string of injuries to four of their top defensemen, a Stanley Cup victory was very likely. The Sabres followed that season with the best regular season in franchise history, capturing the President’s Trophy. But yet again, the Sabres were vanquished in the conference finals.

What ensued was the loss of co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to free agency and two seasons that saw the Sabres fall short of the playoffs. The Sabres returned to the postseason during the 2009-10 season but disappointed with a first-round exit.

Entering this season, the Sabres had grown stagnant organizationally. Many fans felt as though the team was stuck in neutral and that winning wasn’t the top priority. That all changed, however, when the Sabres were bought by Terry Pegula. The change in culture allowed the team to roar into the playoffs and push the Philadelphia Flyers to the brink of elimination before falling short in a Game 7.

Although there is more reason for optimism regarding the Sabres than there has been in quite some time, the playoff loss to the Flyers certainly exposed some glaring weaknesses. If Pegula’s goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Buffalo is to be accomplished, there are a number of holes that must be filled.

Here are five offseason moves that can make the Buffalo Sabres Stanley Cup contenders in 2012.

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