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Sabres slow start garners attention

With a 3-6-1 record the Sabres sit at the bottom of the Northeast Division. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

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With a 3-6-1 record the Sabres sit at the bottom of the Northeast Division. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The early season struggles of the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers have overshadowed those of the Buffalo Sabres.

After winning their opening two games, the Sabres dropped seven of their next eight and currently sit last in the Northeast Division.

The biggest reason they’ve struggled is because Buffalo doesn’t have much scoring depth beyond the top line of Cody Hodgson (10 points), Jason Pominville (14 points) and NHL scoring leader Thomas Vanek (19 points).

Tyler Ennis' six points rank fourth in team scoring. Marcus Foligno, Steve Ott and rookie Mikhail Grigorenko have only one goal each, while former 31-goal scorer Drew Stafford has yet to tally.

It was hoped left winger Ville Leino would rebound from last season's meagre 25-point performance, but he's sidelined by a hip injury that threatens to keep him out for the season.

Vanek's blazing start is impressive, but he's known as a streaky scorer and there's concern his production will eventually cool. If that happens and there's no improvement from their secondary scorers, the Sabres’ troubles will worsen.

GM Darcy Regier could draw on his blueline depth as trade bait for a scorer, but he's reluctant to take that step. CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Regier was telling interested teams to give him a good reason to trade a defenseman and had yet to receive a sufficient response.

Regier's reluctance is likely tied to the injuries and inconsistent play currently plaguing his defense.
 
Tyler Myers is mired in an early-season funk, with one goal and a minus-7 rating, while Jordan Leopold holds that same minus-7. The league-worst is a minus-8.

Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera are currently sidelined, resulting in the call-up of Adam Pardy from the Rochester Americans.

Even the usually reliable Ryan Miller has struggled between the pipes, giving up four goals in each of his past four starts.

Regier might not be shopping a defenseman, but there's speculation he's actively looking for help at both ends of the ice. Scouts from 18 different NHL teams took in the Sabres 4-3 loss on Sunday to the Florida Panthers.

The Sabres woes haven't garnered much attention yet in the rumor mill, but if their problems persist, it's only a matter of time.

BERNIER BACK ON THE BLOCK?

Los Angeles Kings backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier remains a popular subject for trade chatter.

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claimed the Toronto Maple Leafs had been in touch with the Kings about Bernier, hinting they weren't the only team to express interest in the 24-year-old netminder.

Edmonton Journal hockey scribe Jim Matheson was asked by a reader if the Oilers would make a run at Bernier. Matheson dismissed that possibility, citing Devan Dubnyk's strong performance and maturity.

As Matheson pointed out, the Kings aren't in any hurry to move Bernier. They may have stumbled out of the gate this season, but GM Dean Lombardi is giving his club time to regain its championship form. That also means retaining Bernier as insurance should anything happen to starter Jonathan Quick.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

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