Team Power Rankings: Buffalo Sabres #17
I want to start this by stating I am fully onboard with every move made by the Buffalo Sabres this offseason. While moving out Ryan O’Reilly is disapoiting because he is a great two-way player, with the trade they freed up room for rookie Casey Middelstadt to take over that second line center role, and also brought in a rookie and 2 veterans in Sobotka and Berglund to shore up that bottom 6 role. But this wasn’t the only move the Sabres made. They also brought in 2 top 6 left wingers for almost nothing!
They brought in Connor Sheary from Pittsburgh for virtually nothing, a 4th round pick, which they also acquired Hunwick in that trade. That’s not much to give for a guy who once scored 53 points in 61 games.
The Sabres also traded for proven goal scorer Jeff Skinner. A trade which they also gave up very little, and on roster players. In this trade they sent the Hurricanes a prospect in Cliff Pu who was a 3rd round draft pick, and they also gave a 2nd round pick and a 3rd & 6th round pick. That’s not much for a guy who can easily produce 30 goals.
Another big acquisition this offseason was wining the draft lottery and having the privilege of drafting Rasmus Dahlin first overall. A generational talent who in hopes, can cure any defensive problems this team has had over the years.
Now for the negative, and yes there is negative as I only have the team at #17 just out of a playoff spot.
The goaltending. I have absolutely no faith in their goaltending. Hutton is a career backup who may have had a good season last year, is still not a proven starter. At the age of 32 Hutton has 137 NHL games of experience and a career average save percentage of .915. That’s about league average, and while average is not bad, Lehner has back to back .920 seasons and that was not enough to keep him around. Ullmark is another goalie they are putting faith in this season, and while he is still young, and has been great in his call ups and his NHL numbers are great, I just don’t think this is the season that he becomes a starter. Maybe a 25-30 game goalie, but not enough to make them a playoff contender.
So while this team has made great moves this offseason and are trending up, I believe they still miss the playoffs because of goaltending. Prove me wrong Sabres, im begging you.