BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Buffalo Sabres have finished in the bottom five of the NHL standings the last two seasons, including the a last place finish in the 2017-18 season. This past offseason, the Sabres traded center Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues. In return, the Sabres acquired forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and Tage Thompson. Also, the Sabres pretty much stole wingers Conner Sheary and Jeff Skinner from the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes, respectively, in trades this offseason.
Leading the forwards this season will be the man who is expected to be named the captain, Jack Eichel. Sheary and Skinner will give the Sabres help on the wing. The forwards acquired in the O’ Reilly trade will have an impact this year. Berglund and Sobotka will add great veteran prescenses at the center position. Thompson is still growing into his 6-foot 6-inch body, which tore up this year’s Prospects Challenge. Casey Mittlestadt will be the second center on the team, even though he has only played seven games in the NHL. Overall, the forward group should be much improved from last season.
This past offseason, the Sabres drafted a franchise changing defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin with the first pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Rasmus Ristolainen will be the defenseman with the most minutes, but he should not be playing as many minutes as he did last season. Marco Scandella will be his partner on the blue line and will be a solid defensive defenseman. Look for Dahlin to be on the second pair to start the season. The Sabres have a lot of defensemen in the minors who are ready for the NHL but there aren’t many spots on the roster open. With all the defensive depth, look for Housley to plug in different players like Brendan Guhle, Casey Nelson, and Lawrence Pilut throughout the season.
Goalies Linus Ullmark and the newly signed Carter Hutton will both play in net to start the season. Look for head coach Phil Housley to ride the hot goalie throughout the season. Neither Ullmark or Hutton have ever been a full-time starter in the NHL. Look for Linus Ullmark to be the starting goalie of the Buffalo Sabres by the All-Star break.