Friday, September 7, 2018

Buffalo Sabres 2018-19 season preview



          Finishing in last place in today's NHL could sometimes fail, and you could get the 4th overall pick with the lottery system. But, the Buffalo Sabres lucked out, and got the first overall pick, adding top NHL prospect Rasmus Dahlin. But, the team still has a lot of work cut out for them. Before we go into detail, let's look at some fast facts for the Buffalo Sabres.

Head Coach: Phil Housley
General Manager: Jason Botterill
Arena: KeyBank Center
AHL Affiliate: Rochester Americans
2017-18 record: 25-45-12 (62 points)
2017-18 placement: 8th
Division: Atlantic
2017-18 goals leader: Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart (25)
2017-18 assists leader: Jack Eichel (39)
2017-18 points leader: Jack Eichel (64)
2017-18 points leader (defenseman): Rasmus Ristolainen (41)
Captain: None
Assistant Captains: Kyle Okposo, Zach Bogosian
2018 first round pick: Rasmus Dahlin

Offseason additions: Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary, Carter Hutton, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, Scott Wedgewood, Matt Hunwick, Tage Thompson.

Offseason subtractions: Ryan O'Reilly, Robin Lehner, Benoit Pouliot, Chad Johnson, Victor Antipin, Jordan Nolan, Seth Griffith, Josh Gorges, Justin Falk.

Forwards: The team that scored the least amount of goals in the league in 2018 has lost second line center Ryan O'Reilly, but added firepower on the left side with Jeff Skinner and Conor Sheary. There are Believing in rookie Casey Middelstadt to be their second line center. When winger Kyle Okposo is healthy, he's a great top 6 winger. The problem is, he hasn't been that since joining the Sabres. Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka are two veterans from the O'Reilly trade that are expected to be key third liners. The big part of the trade, Tage Thompson, will fight for a 4th line spot.

Forward lines:

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Conor Sheary - Casey Middlestadt - Kyle Okposo
Vladimir Sobotka - Patrik Berglund - Jason Pominville
Evan Rodrigues - Zemgus Girgensons - Tage Thompson
Other: Scott Wilson, Johan Larsson

Defenseman: The first overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin will be a force both offensively and defensively. Pair him with the other Rasmus, Rasmus Ristolainen, and you got a really good and young top pairing. If Zach Bogosian and Jake McCabe stay healthy, then there's two more quality defenseman.

Defensive pairings:

Rasmus Dahlin - Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella - Zach Bogosian
Jake McCabe - Nathan Beaulieu
Other: Casey Nelson, Matt Hunwick

Goalies: Robin Lehner is gone, Carter Hutton is in, and is a big upgrade, if he can put up a season similar to 2017-18 in his first full time starting gig. They are trusting Linus Ullmark to be a full time backup, and I think he can do it.

Goalie allignment:

Carter Hutton
Linus Ullmark
Other: Scott Wedgewood

Predictions:

Top five scorers:

Jack Eichel
Jeff Skinner
Sam Reinhart
Casey Middlestadt
Kyle Okposo

Playoffs: no
division placement: 6th

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