Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/18/14
One thing that Darcy Regier has managed well for the past few years has been his draft strategy. Glaring organizational weaknesses have been addressed in recent seasons via the draft and this approach has led to an impressive stockpile of talent in Buffalo’s prospect cupboards. June’s draft was certainly no exception as the Sabres took what may have been considered to be a calculated gamble on Mikhail Girgorenko followed quickly by Zemgus Girgensons in the first round. The two selections immediately added two big, talented centers who each possess a unique skillset. In fact, each forward drafted by the Sabres in June had spent time at center entering the draft. The addition of Grigorenko was perceived as the solution to the lack of a true number one center on the Buffalo roster. Only three days into training camp and Grigorenko has drawn plenty of attention for his play with many thinking that he will have staying power on the roster. It might be wise to ignore Jerry Sullivan’s rambling, contradictory column and instead focus on the other two posts done by Chris Ryndak and Kevin Pritchard on Girgorenko’s chances to make the final roster for the Sabres. Both Ryndak and Pritchard hit a home run with their analysis. Looking at the makeup of the Sabres roster and assuming that Grigorenko will be a major part of it this season shows quite a different depth chart than what the team had as late as April of last season. Between the trade deadline and draft the Sabres transformed from a team with questionable center depth to one with the capability of having an effective set of nine scoring forwards. Moving Tyler Ennis to center and the continued evolution of Cody Hodgson has primed the Sabres with three blue chip talents down the middle of the ice. So long as Grigorenko sticks around and the trio arte put in a position to succeed, the Sabres attack should be quite impressive. For the record, I do understand where Sullivan is coming from with his skepticism about Grigorenko staying beyond his five-game audition. It wouldn’t necessarily be surprising to see Lindy Ruff err on the side of caution by sticking Jochen Hecht on the “third line” with Ott and Leino while John Scott, Patrick Kaleta, Matt Ellis, Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick all battle for time on the “fourth line”. Of course Gerbe could bump up a line too and there is no way to assume that Grigorenko will stay or go. The decision surrounding Grigorenko could also revolve around which defensemen the Sabres choose to keep as additional bodies on the blueline will make it more difficult to reserve space on the front for additional forwards. Ultimately the Sabres are looking to ice the best roster and keeping the most effective talent which provides the best opportunity to win will be how Ruff picks his team. When I look at the roster I don’t see why you wouldn’t keep Grigorenko full time. The line of Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville and Foligno-Ennis-Stafford should pair nicely with a trio of Ott-Grigorenko-Leino to round out the top nine. Besides, what is the over/under set at for Ruff to shuffle his lines anyway? Five periods, maybe seven? Certainly there will be plenty of changes with the forwards this season and some of those changes will likely include Grigorenko. Outside of over-analyzing and worrying about keeping the 18 year-old’s psyche in the right state, shuffling Grigorenko around with some of Buffalo’s other forwards won’t hurt him. The only issue would be if he is demoted to the fourth line and sees eight minutes a night. That simply cannot happen. Placing him between Pominville, Vanek, Stafford or others won’t harm him. The key is keeping his minutes at an appropriate level. I do have high hopes for what he can do between Ott and Leino. The line is quite reminiscent of the one that helped Leino to his big payday two summers ago. Skating with Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell, Leino thrived on a line that had a solid mix of grit and skill. The same could be said of this trio. Steve Ott is a pest who can grind in the corners, find space in the slot and has a knack for picking up points. Grigorenko and Leino are both supremely talented with the puck and there is no reason that some quick chemistry between the two would result in a line that could potentially do some serious damage. Buffalo’s other two centers already have a fairly impressive resume to their credit entering this shortened season. Hodgson – who I’m a huge fan of – was running at a point-per-game clip with the Amerks and could be poised to take a major step forward skating between Vanek and Pominville this season. Again, all lines are subject to change. Hodgson’s potential is quite captivating. He is a dynamic talent who should certainly thrive playing between two finishers like Pominville and Vanek. Granted, his goal numbers may not be too high playing between the two best finishers on the roster. Regardless, I’m high on what Hodgson brings to the table and keeping him in a top-six role this season should do wonders for his development. The magic of the Foligno-Ennis-Stafford line could continue this season and should it carry over from last spring, the Sabres will have the foundation for three potent scoring lines. This is probably the one line that carries the most faith into the season. They proved to find quick chemistry down the stretch last year and there should be no reason why that won’t continue this season. Ultimately, however, I think this team might just live and die with their centers. If Grigorenko sticks around and is given the proper ice time, he makes the roster a hell of a lot deeper. Giving Hodgson a full season with the team should provide better results than what came after the deadline last year. The Ennis line has high expectations based on their finish and that trio will be prime for a patented Ruff reshuffle should they become stagnant. The equation here appears to be fairly simple. Effective play at pivot should give the Sabres an effective and dangerous lineup. If the centers falter and this becomes a roster carried by a group of 2A and 2B centermen, the offensive well will be quite dry. Now fans can only wait until Sunday to see if the maneuvering to snag these three players will indeed pay off.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

Report: Michigan keeping Jim Hackett on as athletic director

LeBron James on Ferguson: 'Violence is not the answer'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

Jenn Sterger hints she'll be back in her FSU cowgirl gear for game

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.