There’s no getting around it, the Buffalo Sabres have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL the past two seasons. After bottoming out and drafting two top end prospects in Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart to join youngster Rasmus Ristoleinen, former Sabres GM Tim Murray supplemented his team’s youth with intriguing additions like Robin Lehner, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Kyle Okposo with varying results. The team took a step forward in 2015-16, before ultimately taking a step back in 2016-17.
So, what’s in store for 2017-18? With a fresh new look, a new head coach in Phil Housley and some tinkering by rookie GM Jason Botterill, can the team finally get back into the postseason? While none of Botterill’s moves had the punch or impact of his predecessor’s moves, the additions of Marco Scandella, Nathan Beaulieau and Chad Johnson can be seen as nothing but an improvement. The team leaked goals on the backend in 2016-17, but should be better in that regarding in 2017-18.
Is it enough to get the Sabres back into playoff contention? A healthy Jack Eichel will be the key. If he can manage to play the entire campaign, he’ll drive the Sabres offense and everyone will fall in his wake. He has 40 goal, 80+ point potential. If he can fulfill that potential, don’t sleep on the Sabres.