Yet another terrible season for Buffalo Sabres hockey, their only hope is going to come from the draft once again. Looking to the saving power of Jack Eichel just a few years ago and now putting all of their trust into the generational talent, Rasmus Dahlin. This team cannot seem to climb out of the never ending hole that is their lack of success. Receiving the first, eighth, eighth, second, second and eighth picks since 2013, this team should have a never ending wealth of success and happiness. Instead, the Sabres continue to struggle and the "hell has frozen over" type attitude from the fans towards the Sabres franchise as a whole doesn't help. Another thing that doesn't help is the Buffalo weather. That stuff makes this franchise just terrible outside of the arena just as the play of the Sabres makes the franchise terrible inside of the arena.
When it comes to the individual players, there seems to be a gap between the top three point scorers and the rest of the team. Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly and Sam Reinhart all tallied 64, 61 and 50 points respectively. Eichel only played in 67 games which means he was scoring nearly a point per game. These three players seem to be carrying this team however when your third highest scorer is only getting 50 points, there may be a little bit of a problem. The Sabres have a large gap in their scoring where the top three point getters seem to be doing most of the work. From a strategy standpoint, this isn't good because then opponents know that in order to stop your team, they just have to stop your best three players. There is no offense coming from the depth players at all. The depth players in the line up need to step up and produce in order to make this team more difficult to play against.
Jack Eichel seems to be one of the glowing spots for the Sabres. Being a second overall pick, one would like to see him score more than 25 goals but that's what happens when you're on a not so good team as a whole. It is difficult to produce when you are consistently being buried. Same goes for Ryan O'Reilly. A terrific trade acquisition, O'Reilly scored 61 points and co-led the team in power play points with 23. A strong centerman to compliment Eichel's grace, these two certainly seem to be the main cog in this Buffalo rebuild and the future of Sabres hockey. If this team is ever going to escape from this nasty era of terribleness, it is going to be on the shoulders of Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly and newly acquired draft pick Rasmus Dahlin.
An important stat that can't be overlooked with this team is the plus minus rating. It is probably one of the leading causes as to why the stars of the Buffalo Sabres are not producing how one would expect. Only three players on the entire Sabres roster were plus rated and none of them played over six games. The top five point scorers for the Sabres were a combined minus 131. Again, it is really difficult to score on a nightly basis when the opposing team is burying you before you can ever even get any kind of momentum. Better defensive play may be the answer to the Sabres finally witnessing their star forwards producing on a consistent basis. Enter, Rasmus Dahlin. Is this kid and generational talent from the blue line the final answer or piece to the puzzle for the Sabres to finally complete this rebuild that has been going on far too long? It is a possibility. With the Sabres, I think only time will tell. One player can't turn an entire team around but Dahlin can certainly make those around him better. After Eichel was drafted many thought this was the final answer to Buffalo's problems but it turned out to be an important but simply additional piece to the grand puzzle that at some times seems too complicated for anyone to figure out.
The Sabres are going to have to go into next season with a simple positive attitude. I would say not putting too much pressure on Dahlin in his first year is advisable. A playoff berth next year seems highly improbable but I don't think this team will finish last place. Let's save that for the Senators.
Here is Buffalo's infographic for the 2017-18 season.