On the bubble: What Sabres veterans are in danger of being waived to Rochester?

While young players are looking promising, those spots come at a cost

Derek Kramer
September 28, 2018 - 5:59 pm

Photo: Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports


With the Buffalo Sabres wrapping up the preseason against the New York Islanders on Friday night in Oshawa, Ontario, there are still plenty of young players stating their case for the opening night roster on October 4 against the Boston Bruins. 

However, for one to be promoted, one has to be demoted. With some young players like Alex Nylander, Tage Thompson, Lawrence Pilut or Brendan Guhle on the verge of breaking through at the NHL level, there will be some NHL veterans that will be at the wrong end of things and that could be waived in order to make room for the youngsters.

Here are four veterans that need to finish the preseason strong, or they may lose a roster spot in the NHL and be sent to Rochester:

1.) Johan Larsson - Forward 

  • The case for Larsson to stay in Buffalo: 

Larsson is a steady veteran presence with the ability to be a defensive center that the Sabres may need due to the team's potential youth. Larsson is also a solid penalty killer that teams do tend to covet, and can be a threat at times when short handed (one goal, one assist on the penalty kill last season). 

  • The case for Larsson to be sent to Rochester: 

Sadly, Larsson does not offer much in terms of offensive capabilities. His best season, 2016-17, saw him tally 11 points in 37 games before it was cut short from a gruesome injury. Larsson did not seem to bounce back well, but still matched his career-high in points with 17 last year. He is also currently injured, which may hurt his chances of having a spot in the top-12 when he's healthy enough to return.

2.) Zemgus Girgensons - Forward 

  • The case for Girgensons to stay in Buffalo: 

Girgensons is versatile and able to play center and wing at a moment's notice. Girgensons has speed and brings the tenacity that screams bottom-six forward. Girgensons is also responsible defensively, but can still be trusted to, at least, have the speed to fill a top-nine type of role if injuries start to pile up. Last season, Girgensons was with Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville at times with mixed results per-game. 

  • The case for Girgensons to be sent to Rochester: 

Man, how many times has Girgensons had a quality chance that was either robbed, flubbed or not finished off for a goal? The stats tell that story. Every season of his five-year career has seen Girgensons range from 110 to 115 shots. In 2014-15, Girgensons made the NHL All-Star game (thanks to the help of his home country of Latvia, but still an All-Star) and had 15 goals on 13.0-percent shooting. Outside of that season, Girgensons has not surpassed 7.0-percent (his rookie year of 2013-14). The poor guy can never buy a goal. 

3.) Scott Wilson - Forward

  • The case for Wilson to stay in Buffalo: 

Wilson became a solid presence for the bottom-six last season, but once the Sabres traded Evander Kane, Wilson was put out of place on the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Sam Reinhart/Kyle Okposo. Wilson has the perfect skill set for the new age fourth liner, with enough speed to not be overmatched and can put up some decent production. Wilson also is a penalty killer teams can trust. 

  • The case for Wilson to be sent to Rochester: 

If Alex Nylander and Tage Thompson both make the team, it could be a numbers game that may see Wilson being sent down or being the extra forward rotating in or out of the lineup on a regular basis. While Wilson seems more safe than Larsson or Girgensons, Wilson is also strictly a left winger. 

4.) Nathan Beaulieu - Defenseman

  • The case for Beaulieu to stay in Buffalo: 

Beaulieu looks like a different and more confident player than the player that fans saw last season. Beaulieu has a cannon of a shot, something we did not see enough of last year, with only one goal last year while being rotated in and out of the lineup. However, Beaulieu looks like he's steadied up his game and can be a solid sixth or seventh defenseman for this team.

  • The case for Beaulieu to be sent to Rochester: 

Beaulieu was a disaster, cringe-worthy at times, in his own end last season. To get to a point where a clearly over-the-hill Josh Gorges was replacing him in the lineup to steady the blue line defensively, that is rather horrifying. If Lawrence Pilut and Brendan Guhle keep fighting for a spot, it would be Beaulieu's or Casey Nelson's on the line as the sixth and seventh defensemen. 

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