Last Season Record: 15-34-7 (Eighth in East Division)
Last Season Point total: 37
Key departures: Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhart, Taylor Hall, Linus Ullmark, Ralph Krueger as coach, Drake Caggiula, Curtis Lazar, Eric Staal, Probably Jack Eichel within the next few months.
Key additions: Not enough to make up for the very big one that is upcoming, I’ll give you that one for free.
You poor, poor, poor bastards.
After yet another season of all-but-declaring a hard reset, the big question mark that has hung in the air for the past several months is whether or not Jack Eichel will be allowed to get the disc replacement surgery he so desperately desires after getting deeply harmed at some point last season. The rest of the team meanwhile is...uh....
Well, it’s been getting dire for a couple of years now, let’s put it that way.
If Eichel doesn’t play or gets his surgery and spends months at a time on the IR, Casey Mittelstadt is probably your first line center. That’s probably not what you want going into the first game of the year, as you absolutely need him to help hopefully ass Jeff Skinner into playing like Jeff Skinner again, and the rest of your forward corps is looking exceptionally mediocre. You’ve all but ensured Rasmus Dahlin has to drag his pairing-mate to a half-respectable result (and given how Buffalo Fans see him, he will receive absolutely zero credit for it), and the rest of your D-corps is rough on it’s face. Your standeout goaltender now plays for Boston and you replaced him with Craig Anderson, and the guy who was usually good at convincing these players into playing well for precisely a month and then returning to sucking is gone; You will not have your grace period to convince people you’ve turned it around.
Craig Anderson may be able to steal a game here or there but the deficiencies of the last few GMs dragged through Royal Blue and Gold’s hallowed halls through the Pegula era has ultimately come to roost in the form of a Frankenstein's monster of bad decision-making and poor play. Some of that does come from the players not playing to the lofty standard of “Good NHL team”, sure, but most of this mess has ultimately been management’s fault from day one, and they deserve to be held accountable for it. Until then, Sabres fans will be stuck with the hollowed out shell of a hockey team that occasionally might have some good play here or there. Arttu Ruotsalainen is pretty good, as is Anders Bjork occasionally. Maybe they’ll be able to put some strong play together. And wait...RASMUS DAHLIN IS ALSO UNSIGNED AT THE MOMENT!?
So yeah, I don’t anticipate this team to give the Boston Bruins much trouble this season.
HOT TAEK: The Sabres trade Eichel to Anaheim by the Trade deadline and complete their ascension to the worst team in professional hockey. They move to Houston a year later.