The Buffalo Sabres finished last place with a record of 25-45-12 for 62 points. They also finished last in NHL scoring with only 199 goals. Buffalo has missed qualifying for the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, dating back to 2010-11.
The Buffalo Sabres were very busy this offseason. At the 2018 draft, they selected top prospect Rasmus Dahlin with the first overall pick.
On the trade front, the Sabres acquired forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional fourth-round pick. They also shipped star centre Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for veteran forwards Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund, prospect Tage Thompson, a 2019 first-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick. Buffalo also acquired Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Cliff Pu, a 2019 second-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2020 sixth-round pick.
Jack Eichel, 21, and Rasmus Ristolainen, 23, are two returning stars to watch for in Buffalo this season. Eichel is the face of the franchise, so long as he can stay healthy. He led all Sabres in points last season with 64 (25g, 34a)and tied for the team lead in goals despite missing 15 games because of injury. Last season, Ristolainen led the Sabres on the blueline. He recorded 41 points in 73 games played.
Alexander Nylander (cover photo), Buffalo’s 2016 first-round draft choice (eighth overall) scored two goals in Buffalo’s 4-1 exhibition win over Columbus on Monday night. Having played seven games for the Sabres in the previous two seasons, Nylander is ready. and Casey Mittelstadt, 19, are two Sabre prospects to keep an eye on this season. Dahlin was the undisputed top prospect at this year’s draft. Mittelstadt was drafted eighth overall in 2017. Both bring offensive talent to a Sabres team who struggled offensively last year.
What to Expect
The Buffalo Sabres have improved from last season but not as much as some other teams in their division. It is likely they will place higher in league standings this year but will miss the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year. At minimum, the Sabres should have more offense, more goals, and an overall stronger ability to compete than last year. Goaltending remains their biggest uncertainty but based on his $2.75 million salary, Carter Hutton should be the opening game starter.
Cover Photo Credit: (Harry Scull Jr.)
Billy Morrison covers the NHL’s Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter @BillyMorrison01.