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SYLVESTER'S BLOG: DEFENSEMAN Q&A

by Kevin Sylvester / Buffalo Sabres
Shootout host Kevin Sylvester is a veteran journalist in radio, television and print media.  From time to time, Sylvester will be taking time out of  his busy schedule to post entries in his blog or answer fans submitted questions.


Click here to send Sylvester a question.  Select submissions will be answered from time to time in different blog entries.

 
Teppo Numminen (photo: Getty Images)
Question/Comment: What do you think about next season for the Sabres? Are we signing Bernier/Numminen? Will Lindy finally name a captain for the entire season? And do you honestly think that Buffalo will return to the playoffs after the 2007 season filled with injury and inconsistency? -- Will Mason from Amherst, NY

KS:  Let me start with your last question.  

I honestly believe this team will return to the playoffs.  The easiest thing to point out is that look how close they came with all of the injuries and inconsistency.  I think the young veterans will improve next season and might be fresher given the long off season.  

I have to believe the top pair of Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder will return to form after a disappointing season.  I'm exciting about Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber too.  

I think Steve Bernier will definitely be signed, but Teppo Numminen is intriguing.  I think they need to sign a veteran defenseman and either he, Nolan Pratt, or both.
 
Question/Comment: Do you think Buffalo will look to add some veteran "leadership" in which, my opinion, they lacked in maybe the blueline? If so who would be some targets? -- Steve Talty from Baldwinsville, NY

KS:  That depends on what you're talking about in leadership.   

I think Lindy Ruff tried to develop leadership with his veteran defenseman and young forwards.  So I don't think they'll be looking for a captain type.  

I think Jason Pominville may be the candidate to be a longer term captain.  I also like what Jaroslav Spacek did with his month despite injury.   I also think the term leadership is overused and misunderstood, which I'll guess you feel the same way since you used parentheses around the word.   

It became a buzzword in the media with the departures of veterans via free agency and the medical situation with Teppo Numminen.  I think Numminen could be resigned to provide what many think the team lacked.  

Tim Connolly (photo: Getty Images)
Question/Comment: What is the future of Teppo Numminen with the team? Can't a strong case be made for needing his experience and leadership in the room with such a young team? -- Anonymous

KS: His future is unknown with the team.  He indicated that he wants to be back.  Money will be the issue.  

What's he worth after a season in which he played one game?  

I don't know the answer, but I'm sure his agent has an opinion and Sabres management has another.  If you use the dollar figure of his contract last year, maybe you can get a younger veteran on the blueline.  

Maybe the room chemistry is bigger as you suggested.  I do believe that Numminen has more quality hockey left in him, and it would make a great story for it to be here.  
 
Question/Comment: What exactly is the situation with Tim Connolly?  He is such a great player, but again, he is also very injury prone. If he was healthy he would be right up there with the best! So what's management going to do with him, keep him or let him go? - George Baboros

KS:  The situation is he is currently rehabbing from hip surgery and should be ready to go at training camp.  I believe he will be on the team.  The market for him cannot be high given the injury history.  Also, he makes the offense and power play better.  Throw in the fact that this will be the final year of his contract, I expect big things from him next season.   
 
Question/Comment: Andrej Sekera really stepped up for this team towards the end of the regular season. With defense being an area the Sabres have had some obvious issues with the past season, and Sekera being a great defenseman, what are the chances he will be permanently moved from Rochester to Buffalo? -- Jordan Oathout from Queensbury, NY

KS:  I think it's a lock.  He improved with each call up.  Sekera is a puck moving defenseman with excellent offensive ability.  In 2005-06 he notched 55 points in 51 games in the OHL and was named the league's Most Outstanding Defenseman.  That's a pretty good indicator, along with his play this past season, of things to come.
 



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