The Buffalo Sabres' season opens Wednesday night in Detroit against their new division foe, the Red Wings. 

The Sabres do not find themselves high on many lists to start the season, but there are questions surrounding this Sabres team nonetheless. 

These are the biggest questions surrounding the Sabres entering the 2013-14 season.

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all season long: @SwordPlay18.

Begin Slideshow

The new-look Atlantic Division will pit the Buffalo Sabres against some old foes and new rivals. 

The Sabres have missed the playoffs for the past two seasons, and expectations are not much higher this season. 

There is a silver lining, however. 

The youth movement is in full swing, and head coach Ron Rolston is overseeing one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The Sabres' prospect pool is one of the best in the league, and players like Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson will be able to make their marks on the NHL level soon enough.

Here's how the Sabres match up against each one of their divisional opponents for the 2013-14 season. 

 

Begin Slideshow

With less than a week until the start of the Buffalo Sabres' 2013-14 season, it's time to make some bold predictions. Thus far, the team is 4-1-1 in the preseason, but that's hardly an indicator of an Eastern Conference contender. Still, we can't count out the Blue and Gold just yet.

With the beginning of the rebuilding process, a lot of things are going to be different in Buffalo. That means some players will have to step up and take new roles, while others may be shipped out of town.

Either way, it looks to be an intriguing—albeit probably unsuccessful—season in the Queen City. Here are my five predictions for the season.

Begin Slideshow

It's always difficult to understand the NHL when it decides to fine or suspend players and coaches for their on-ice conduct. According to the Associated Press (h/t Sports Illustrated), the league decided to fine Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston an undisclosed amount of money for his conduct during Sunday's exhibition game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The incident took place at the 10:01 mark of the third period. The Maple Leafs were up 4-3, so it's not like the game was out of reach, and there was still half of a period to play.

After a fight between Buffalo's Corey Tropp and Toronto's Jamie Devane, a faceoff was scheduled at center ice. Devane won the fight decisively, and Tropp's helmetless head hit the ice hard.

Rolston left John Scott on the ice, a man with one career goal and 305 career penalty minutes in 180 NHL games. Obviously, Scott was not left out there to score the tying goal.

Keep in mind this game was in Toronto and the Maple Leafs had the last change. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle clearly made a huge mistake by sending out his top goal scorer, Phil Kessel, after he saw Scott out there on the ice.

The result was hardly surprising. Scott challenged Kessel to drop the gloves. Kessel backed away and twice slashed Scott in the shins/ankles—and a line brawl broke out which featured all 12 players on the ice, including the two goalies.

Ultimately, 211 penalty minutes were handed out, with the Leafs' David Clarkson being suspended 10 games for leaving the bench and Kessel getting a three-game ban for slashing Scott.

But here's why the NHL was hypocritical to fine Rolston. The league allows and even tacitly condones fighting, which has been a part of the NHL since the league's birth nearly a century ago.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman even admitted as much in a 2007 interview with the Canadian Press. "My view on fighting hasn't changed," Bettman said. "We've never taken active steps or considered eliminating fighting from the game. I've always taken the view that it's a part of the game and it rises and lowers based on what the game dictates."

Participate in a fight in the NHL and you sit in the penalty box for five minutes while your opponent sits for five minutes. Engage in a brawl in the NFL, MLB or NBA and you're going to get fined and probably suspended for a few games.

So again, we set the stage for Sunday's exhibition game. Rolston just had a player badly beaten in a fight. The game was getting more physical and intense, but was still close. To protect his players or to send a message to the opposition, he sent out his enforcer, Scott, to start the next shift.

If a coach can't send out his enforcer under those circumstances, when can he use him? We all know why Scott is in the NHL. It's not because he has a great shot or because he's a fast skater. He's in the league because he can drop the gloves, protect his teammates and prevent opposing players from taking liberties with the more skilled players on his team.

Rolston used his enforcer in exactly the way the job description says he should. It was Carlyle who had the last change and chose to send out a goal scorer like Kessel opposite Scott. This is a foolish move at any time, but even more so in a meaningless preseason game. Nobody was surprised when Scott challenged the player lined up across from him. Kessel violently slashed Scott twice and earned himself a suspension for three preseason games.

If fighting is considered part of the game, then sending out a player to fight is part of a coach's job description. Fining Rolston for doing just that doesn't really make sense, especially when he was coaching the road team and didn't have the last change.

The reason that Rolston was fined is most likely twofold. First, Scott ended up challenging a star player, and enforcers are not supposed to challenge stars to fights. And second, the star player Scott went after was Kessel, the biggest star on the Maple Leafs, the team in Canada's biggest media market.

Let's face it, if Scott had dropped the gloves with either Frazer McLaren or Colton Orr, Rolston wouldn't have been and the line brawl that followed may have possibly been avoided.

In the end, it's tough to determine what Rolston did to deserve a fine. He used his enforcer in one of the roles he was expected to play, to respond when a teammate was badly beaten in a fight. If fighting is "part of the game," then what Rolston did is part of the game as well, and the league looks hypocritical for fining him.

 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

Heading into the 2013-14 NHL season, the Buffalo Sabres appear to have more questions than answers with their roster. Not only is it unclear which young players will make the roster, but the future of veterans like Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller are both up in the air.

Entering their first full season under Ron Rolston, the Sabres hope that his skills in developing young talent pays immediate dividends. Still, the team is a part of the new-look Atlantic Division, which boasts five teams that made the 2013 playoffs.

Things could get ugly.

Though a significant amount of hope remains for the years to come, the 2013-14 season could provide even more heartache than the previous campaign. Let's take a look at some of the biggest questions surrounding this squad as it approaches the season.

Begin Slideshow

The Buffalo Sabres' goaltenders were busy last season. 

The Sabres ranked dead last in the NHL by allowing 33.5 shots per game last season, with a significant gap between them and the 29th-rated team, the Edmonton Oilers

While the Sabres' defense likely will not be as porous as it was last season, the Sabres' netminders likely figure to be active again. That means the lynch pin to the team's success likely rests in the crease each night. 

This puts a big spotlight on Ryan Miller or Jhonas Enroth every single game night. 

Miller, despite seemingly having one foot out the door for most of the offseason, is back with the Sabres for at least the start of the season. Miller had a down year last year, posting a 2.81 goals against average, a career-high. 

While Miller may not be the Vezina Trophy-winning, Olympic MVP he was four years ago, he still has the ability to be a top netminder in the NHL. The Sabres may be hoping that he finds the magic of the last Olympics this year with a spot on this year's USA team in question. 

Either way, the Miller situation is extremely fluid. There are a lot of factors that will play into it, including his play and the team's position in the standings, but it seems that Miller's name will be thrown around in trade talks all season long as well. 

Miller's backup is again Jhonas Enroth who bounced back nicely at the end of last season after a horrendous stretch dating back to the 2011-12 season. Buffalo fans may have a bit more confidence in Enroth as the starter now than they did that this time last season, but he still has some growing to do. 

Enroth started last night's preseason opener in Montreal and stopped 10 of 13 shots.

Behind Enroth, and possibly a part of a platoon if Miller were to be moved, is Matt Hackett. Hackett was acquired last year at the deadline along with Johan Larsson in exchange for Jason Pominville

Hackett has some NHL experience, but will begin the season starting in Rochester of the AHL. Hackett looked great in last night's preseason game, saving 11 of 12 shots, including a few of the highlight reel variety. 

The Hackett trade certainly gives the Sabres' front office more leeway with a possible trade and may have been the final organizational push that led to "Miller Watch 2013." 

Competing for Hackett's backup position in Rochester include, in no particular order, Nathan Lieuwen, Connor Knapp and Andrey Makarov. Lieuwen and Knapp have AHL experience, but Makarov seems to have the inside edge on the job based on his play in the Traverse City tournament last week. 

Overall, Miller will lead the way out of the locker room for the season opener in Detroit on October 2, but there is a real possibility he will not finish the year in a Sabres sweater.

Expect Enroth to have a more prominent role this season, if only to prepare him for an increased role next season when Miller will all but certainly be in a new city. Hackett will hone his game in the AHL, but may see some call up time sooner rather than later. 

Regardless, all three should be ready for some busy nights come October.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

The Buffalo Sabres opened up their 2013 training camp on Wednesday with players reporting for physicals. One of the players returning is goaltender Ryan Miller.

Miller, who has been at the center of trade speculation in and around Buffalo for the better part of the last eight months, said he obviously didn't know what the future held for him after last season, but he isn't disappointed with how things have gone. 

"I'm able to do a job in a city I'm familiar with; a city I'm very much at home," Miller said during his media conference Wednesday morning. "This isn't a bad situation."

When asked about if he had ever requested a trade out of Buffalo, Miller openly denied that any such notion happened. 

"I never asked for a trade," he said. "I didn't know if it was the best thing for me anyways.

"I signed a deal to be here, and I was committed to seeing it through."

Miller, like many, thought that the season finale against the New York Islanders in April was going to be his last time donning a Sabres sweater. As he waved to the crowd and spent extra time on the ice after the game, Miller said that he didn't want to take any chances just in case it did turn out to be his last time on the ice as a Sabre. 

"I didn't want to risk it," Miller said. "It was the last game, we weren't going to the playoffs. I know for a lot of people it was kind of a throwaway game, but it was my 500th game. 

"I really had enjoyed all my time here. I've enjoyed the people, I've enjoyed the teammates and the organization. I didn't want to risk leaving town without having the chance to at least wave a few times...I didn't want to risk leaving town without people knowing how I felt."

Miller made quite a few references to his love of the city and the community, and with that he remains open to continuing is career beyond this season in the city he's called home for the past 12 years. 

"I'm not going to close off anything," he said. 

He added: "Darcy (Regier) has to build a team, and maybe he feels that he wants me here."

Miller did say, though, that he and the team haven't had any extension discussions as of late.

 

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

The Buffalo Sabres unleashed their new alternate jerseys today and most fans really wished they hadn't.

After weeks of teasing what the new look would be, the team, along with forward Steve Ott, unveiled the third jerseys they'll be donning during the year. Get a load of the action here from Ott's Twitter account.

A two-toned yellow front and sleeves with a blue cape-like look on the back of the jersey with the Sabres' main logo as the crest. It's....something. It's also getting ravaged online by fans. 

Buffalo's Facebook page has turned into a commentary minefield, one that's gotten so ugly some of the comments are being deleted due to their nastiness. Twitter isn't treating the new look any nicer either.

That's just a brutal panning of what's ultimately a pretty ugly jersey. Yellow isn't exactly a popular color for a jersey, Nashville Predators aside, and the Sabres' main look was already popular enough as it was. Doing a semi-old school throwback managed to win the fans back after taking a very ugly turn with the "Buffaslug" look.

Will it eventually win over the fans? Judging by today's outpouring of disdain, it's looking about as good as these jerseys do.

 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com