Alex Brasky | @BataviasBest
Thursday, October 4, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
Here is a brief preview of the Buffalo Sabres’ upcoming 2018-2019 regular season, which begins tonight with the Sabres’ home opener vs the Boston Bruins.
Last Season’s Record: 25-45-12 (62 points) | 31st in NHL – 8th in Atlantic
Key 2017-2018 Departures: C Ryan O’Reilly, G Robin Lehner, G Chad Johnson, LW Benoit Pouliot, D Victor Antipin, LW Jordan Nolan, RW Seth Griffith, D Josh Gorges
Key 2018-2019 Additions: LW Jeff Skinner, G Carter Hutton, LW Conor Sheary, LW Vladimir Sobotka, C Patrik Berglund, RW Tage Thompson, D Matt Hunwick
If the Sabres are to achieve the best-case scenario this season that will mean that Jason Botterill’s revamping of Buffalo’s roster turned out to be effective. With so many new players coming and going during the offseason it will be up to Botterill, and head coach Phil Housley, to push the right buttons in order to get this group to succeed.
Jeff Skinner leads a long list of new contributors for the Sabres this season, and he and the rest of the group will ultimately decide whether or not Buffalo will improve on their finish from last year. Skinner and the rest must come in and find a way to gel with what Buffalo brings back to their roster.
The Buffalo skater with the most on his shoulders this season will be newly-minted captain Jack Eichel, who is in his fourth season. Eichel must finally become what Buffalo drafted him to be – and that’s a top-five center in the NHL who consistently propels his team to the postseason. He finally has the talent surrounding him to take the next step individually, and I expect he will do so in 2018-2019.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
In addition to what they brought in offensively and defensively, the Sabres will also have two new faces in net this season, with one being more familiar than the other. Newly-acquired Carter Hutton steps in as the team’s starting goaltender, while former Buffalo prospect Linus Ullmark will be thrust into a more-important role as Buffalo’s backup goalie. Hutton was strong in limited action for St. Louis a season ago, but he must learn to handle the workload of a starting NHL goaltender if he hopes to help this team make a run at a wild card berth.
Season Prediction: 36-39-7
Be sure to tune in all season long for Buffalo Sabres coverage.