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NHL Buffalo Sabres

5 Players The Buffalo Sabres Should Keep

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5 Players the Buffalo Sabres Need to Keep

Buffalo Sabres
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The moment is drawing near when Pat LaFontaine will announce his choice for general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, and then the real games can begin. Once the general manager is in place, it is expected that he will sit down with interim head coach Ted Nolan, remove the interim tag from Nolan’s title and then get down to talking about the future of the team. By the time that general manager is in place, Ted Nolan will already know which players he will want to keep and which players have to go.

Sabres fans want to believe that there are certain players who will automatically make the team because of who the players are. But the truth is that every single player on the Sabres roster is at risk for being cut, and that means the team will look significantly different when the 2014-15 season starts. But how different will it look?

The fans in Buffalo are not afraid to share their disgust with the current team, and there is a large contingency of fans who feel that the team should just start over and get rid of every player on the roster. This is not a practical solution, but it is also not far from what could wind up happening between this season’s trade deadline and the start of free agency in July.

Will your favorite Sabre still be in Buffalo when the puck drops on the 2014-15 season? It's hard to tell, but there are five Sabres who many people think should still be in the blue and gold when the new Nolan team finally hits the ice.

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5. Zemgus Girgensons

Zemgus Girgensons
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Sabres need to be concerned about the future, and center Zemgus Girgensons is the team’s future. He is strong, confident, fast and has hockey smarts. He could very well be that elusive 30 to 40-goal scorer per season that the team has been looking for. Right now, Girgensons is still learning the NHL game. In the next two to three years, Sabres fans will notice a huge improvement in his play and his points production. Ted Nolan knows Girgensons because Nolan is the head coach of Girgensons’ Latvian national team. When Nolan lays out his plans for the future, Zemgus Girgensons will be a big part of those plans.

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4. Steve Ott

Steve Ott
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

If there ever was a “Ted Nolan type” of NHL captain, it is Steve Ott. The fans who do not appreciate the things that Steve Ott does for his team are the fans who are not keeping a close eye on the action away from the puck. Ott is not afraid to challenge the biggest goons on the opposition and he is fierce when it comes to protecting his teammates. He is not a great goal scorer, but he always seems to get himself in a position to score at least two or three times a game. Steve Ott has proven that he is the captain Nolan needs.

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3. Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before Ted Nolan came to Buffalo, many people within the Sabres’ organization had already been talking about goaltender Ryan Miller in the past tense. Miller responded by establishing himself as an elite NHL goaltender and the best player on the Buffalo team. Since Nolan’s arrival, the mood in the organization has shifted away from past tense and towards concern that Nolan can convince Miller to stay. Ryan Miller will need to believe that Nolan and the new general manager can build a Stanley Cup champion if he is going to stay, and the organization needs to believe that Miller still has what it takes to win big games. This drama won’t be over until next season’s training camp opens. Until then, all Sabres fans can do is wait.

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2. Mark Pysyk

Mark Pysyk
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

If Sabres fans are to accept the fact that defenseman Tyler Myers is going to be part of the team’s future, then that will make everyone wonder what other current defensemen would make the grade. Mark Pysyk is a 21-year-old defenseman who plays the position like it should be played. He is not flashy and doesn't put up a ton of points. What he does do is anchor the Buffalo blue line and prevent the opposition from bearing down on the Buffalo net. If Myers is going to be allowed to free-wheel his way around the ice, then the Sabres need the stay-at-home skills of Pysyk to protect the defensive zone.

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1. Cody Hodgson

Cody Hodgson
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Hodgson is out of sight and out of mind for Sabres fans lately because of an injury. When the Sabres picked up Hodgson in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks, there was a great deal of potential in the young center. It took Hodgson a while to find his groove, but he seemed to be on his way to becoming a rather prolific scorer for Buffalo before his injury. Hodgson has veteran savvy to him even though he is still a young player. He has the kind of offensive creativity and knack for scoring goals that the Sabres will need in the years to come.