Buffalo Sabres

  Buffalo Sabres Coming from one of the most forgettable seasons in Buffalo Sabres franchise history, the Sabres are not expected to figure in the race to the top of the Atlantic standings – although they are a much better team today compared to a year ago. Last year, Buffalo won only 25 out of 82 games, languishing with only 62 points, a league-worst. Because they ended up 31st in the NFL, the Sabres were able to secure a lottery draft pick which they used to acquire Rsmus Dahlin, an all-world defenseman. The Sabres then got quite busy during the offseason, fine-tuning their line-up, and building the team around 4th year prized centre Jack Eichel and the 18 year old Dahlin with enough talent.   New to the Line-up As mentioned, the sabres drafted Rasmus Dahlin. They also bolstered their line-up with the acquisition of Carter Hutton via free agency, and trading for Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary, Patrik Berglund, Tage Thompson, and Vladimir Sobotka.   Out of the Team The Sabres sent Ryan O’Reilly and Cliff Pu via trades, and lost Benoit Pouliot, Robin Lehner, Josh Gorges, Viktor Antipin, as well as Chad Johnson to free agency.   Forwards A lot of changes transpired up front. They first picked up Conor Sheary in exchange for a 4th rounder (conditional), which is a good option to play alongside rookie Mittelstadt or Eichel. Sheary made a good account of himself in his final two years with Pittsburgh, though he was mostly with Sidney Cosby. The Sabres then dealt centre O’Reilly to the Blues, and got Berglund, Sobotka, Thompson, and Tage in exchange, together with a 2019 first round and 2021 second round draft picks. The most significant move was the acquisition of California Hurricane Jeff Skinner for Cliff Pu, and a 2019 second round, 2020 third round, and a 2020 sixth round draft pick. Skinner has scored 30 goals in 3 seasons, and is in a tie for 16th spot in the league in goals. He has scored 140 goals during the past 5 seasons. All these moves have definitely made the Sabres a deeper team. However, despite the vast improvement, they are still inferior when compared to the elite forwards of their Atlantic division rivals.   Defensemen Even with the addition of a player dubbed as Nicklas Lindstrom with the size of Victor Hedman, the Sabres’ defense is still considered a major weakness. Over the past 3 years, Rasmus Ristolainen has carried the brunt of the defense, but he has attracted some negative reviews from NHL analysts despite his stud status in fantasy hockey. Aside from Ristolainen and Dahlin, Buffalo doesn’t have other consistently reliable defensemen, although Marco Scandella can complement Ristolainen at top pair.   Goalies Buffalo released Robin Lehner in the summer, and elevated Carl Hutton, a career backup. Although Hutton, 32, hasn’t started in over 32 games since the 2013 – 2014 season, he has just emerged from a career season, with his league-leading 2.09 goals against average, and .931 save percentage. Backing up Hutton is Linus Ullmark.   Predicted Finish in the Atlantic Division While there’s no question that the Sabres have bolstered their line-up in the offseason, and they have a bright future, they are still not ready to challenge the Atlantic powerhouses. Thus, for 2018 -19, they are expected to finish 5th in the division behind Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston, and Florida. Follow the Buffalo Sabres schedule and watch Sabres game here all season long.