The NHL is just 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Over the next 31 days we’ll dive into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday we looked at the Boston Bruins. Today we stay in the Atlantic division, looking at what can be expected from the Buffalo Sabres.
2016/17 record: 33/37/12
2017/18 prediction: Well out of the playoffs
The Buffalo Sabres will be desperate to avoid finishing bottom of the Atlantic division again, having lost last season’s battle with the Red Wings for ‘who can suck slightly less’. The Sabres’ ownership responded by firing head coach Dan Bylsma and GM Tim Murray. A move which may or may not have been fueled by (Buffalo) superstar Jack Eichel‘s ongoing reluctance to sign a new contract. Stanley Cup winner Byslma was replaced by former Nashville Predators assistant coach Phil Housley.
The Sabres haven’t been to a playoffs since the 2010/11 season, and they were dumped out of that in the first round. The trading of Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno away for Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella was a bit of a sideways move. Buffalo have brought in experience at the cost of speed and a physical presence.
Pominville was drafted by the Sabres and played nine seasons with the team before being traded away in 2013. His return brings leadership to Buffalo. Last season the team was sorely lacking in accountability, responsibility, ownership and other such management buzzwords. The second coming of Pom should fix this.
The addition of Beaulieu, who underwhelmed in an underwhelming Canadiens team adds some depth to the Sabres’ roster.
The biggest challenge that the Sabres will face, aside from some big egos, is that the Atlantic is a competitive division and it’s difficult to call which teams will clinch the playoff places. It won’t be the Sabres though. As the never ending rebuild marches on, Buffalo will take some points from some big teams, and may even finish fifth or sixth, but expect the run of missing playoffs to continue a little longer.