BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — One year after stripping the “C” from Jack Eichel and going without a captain for a full season, the Sabres intend to anoint one before dropping the puck opening night.
“We’ll have a captain this year,” general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday before the start of training camp. “We talked a lot about it during the offseason. That’s something we’re still going to spend a little bit of time on in the next week or two. But we’ll have that before the regular season, our leadership group.”
Vote in our poll near the bottom of this post on whom you believe should be the Sabres’ next captain.
Coach Don Granato noted the Sabres have many candidates for the leadership group, but not all of them would be ideal captains at this point in their careers.
“There’s a lot of guys that we know have the capability of either being or becoming a captain at this level,” Granato said. “You can have an extreme leader who is not necessarily captain material. A captain has to be very comfortable getting in a guy’s face and calling guys out. That’s a big part of captaincy, too. And it’s a burden. That’s a lot. So when you think of young guys, sometimes that’s a concern for any organization.”
When asked what he was looking for in a captain, Granato first pointed to Buffalo’s three oldest players — 41-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson, as well as forwards Kyle Okposo, 34, and Zemgus Girgensons, 28, who both served as alternate captains last season.
“They do a tremendous job,” Granato said. “They have that presence. And they are in it, obviously as competitors, but they really have a deep care for helping some other guys achieve more. They don’t fear that this guy might replace me. Which is very uncommon. Whether that is an unconscious thought, or a subconscious thought. Sometimes it’s hard for the older players to really, really help a guy who might replace them or take some ice time away from them. And those guys there, they love it.”
Many expect Okposo to be the pick. The 15-year NHL veteran has been an alternate captain in each of the past five seasons. He is respected by teammates and is coming off a 21-goal season, his best with the Sabres.
A case can be made for Alex Tuch, one of the players Buffalo acquired from Vegas in the Eichel trade. He gave off captain vibes during the Sabres’ surge over the final months of last season. The 26-year-old forward was a Sabres fan growing up in Baldwinsville and has quickly become one of the team’s most popular personalities.
It also should be noted that Tage Thompson replaced Eichel as the Sabres’ top-line center and led the team with 38 goals last season. He was rewarded last month with a seven-year, $50 million contract extension, and was thrust by teammates into the center of the post-practice stretching circle at the end of the first day of training camp.
Then there is Jeff Skinner, the highest-paid player on the team making $9 million per year, who was second behind Thompson with 33 goals. Both players had 30 assists, second only to Dahlin’s team-leading tally (40).
Additionally, Rasmus Dahlin wore the “A” on his sweater at times during a season when he was selected for the All-Star Game. The 22-year-old defenseman, a former No. 1 overall pick, has grown into a more prominent leadership role entering his fifth season, and would seem to be a prime candidate for captaincy in future seasons. Owen Power, the 19-year-old defenseman drafted first overall in 2021 also could develop into a potential captain.
Sabres captain history
|Gerry Meehan||1971-72 – Oct. 1974|
|Jim Schoenfeld||Oct. 1974- 1976-77|
|Don Luce (due to injury to Jim Schoenfeld)||Jan. 1976|
|Danny Gare||1977-78 – 1980-81|
|Gilbert Perreault||1981-82 – Nov. 1986|
|Lindy Ruff||Nov. 1986 – Feb. 1989|
|Mike Foligno||Feb. 1989 – Dec. 1990|
|Dave Andreychuk (due to injuries to Mike Foligno)||Jan. 1990 – March 1990|
|Mike Ramsey||Jan. 1991 – Oct. 1992|
|Pat LaFontaine||Oct.1992 – 1996-97|
|Alexander Mogilny (due to injury to Pat LaFontaine)||Nov. 1993 – April 1994|
|Michael Peca||1997-98 – 1999-2000|
|Donald Audette (due to injury to Michael Peca)||April 18, 1998|
|Stu Barnes||2001-02 – March 2003|
|Miroslav Satan||Oct. 2003|
|Chris Drury||Nov. 2003|
|James Patrick||Dec. 2003|
|J-P Dumont||Jan. 2004|
|Daniel Briere||Feb. 2004|
|Chris Drury||March 2004|
|Jochen Hecht||Oct. 2007|
|Toni Lydman||Nov. 2007|
|Brian Campbell||Dec. 2007|
|Jaroslav Spacek||Jan. 2008|
|Jochen Hecht||Feb. 2008|
|Jason Pominville||March 2008|
|Craig Rivet||Oct. 2008 – Feb. 2011|
|Jason Pominville||2011-12 – April 2013|
|Thomas Vanek||Oct. 2013|
|Steve Ott||Oct. 2013 – Feb. 2014|
|Brian Gionta||2014-15 – 2016-17|
|Jack Eichel||2018-19 – 2020-21|