As has been the case the past couple of years, being the captain of the Buffalo Sabres has resulted in departure. The Sabres have traded away their past three captains, that being Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott. The Sabres were in major need of change to their core group of players, and management did just that. Although the Sabres received great value and key draft picks for these players, they are currently left without a captain; so the question remains: who will be the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres?
Even though the Sabres have one of the youngest teams in hockey, they still have some solid candidates that could take on a leadership role and captain this team.
It is hard to say whether or not Head Coach Ted Nolan likes the idea of naming a newly acquired player captain; however, there is no doubting that Brian Gionta would be an ideal candidate. The Rochester native has played in almost 800 career games and has won a Stanley Cup. Gionta has proven to be a solid playoff performer, as he just captained a Montreal Canadians team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Gionta would be a great mentor to players like Mikhail Grigorenko, Johan Larsson, Joel Armia and Samson Reinhart. Young players would look up to Gionta both on and off the ice.
Another newcomer, Josh Gorges was brought in to be a leader on the blue line. Gorges is a heart and soul player, who leaves everything on the ice on a night to night basis. Previously an assistant captain with the Canadians, Gorges was a big part of their playoff run last season. Gorges is not only a lead by example guy, but he is also a vocal leader in the locker room. Young players will greatly benefit playing alongside Gorges.
After a slow start to the season, Drew Stafford was able to ignite his game and thrive under new Ted Nolan. The longest tenured Sabre not only found new life but also made the players around him better as well. Stafford has proven to be an elite goal scorer in the past, but just needs to find more consistency in his game. Stafford is a vocal leader and would be an intriguing candidate for the Sabres vacancy at captain.
Although Tyler Ennis is only entering his fourth full NHL season, he recently signed a five year, 23 million dollar contract. Management believes that Ennis is a key part to a successful rebuild. After coming off career high 21 goals, Ennis has high expectations for the 2014/15 season. Although he may be a long shot to be named Sabres captain, Nolan may elect to roll with a player who has been around and is well known in the locker room.
It will be interesting to see who Ted Nolan will name the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres. He may not have many options; however, Nolan does have players with previous leadership experience he may wish to choose from. With training camp just around the corner, only time will tell until the Buffalo Sabres announce their next captain.
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