SABRES ON TOP OF NHL STANDINGS! Surprise! or is it really?
Last Saturday, I was at the Little Caesars Arena to watch the Sabres play the Red Wings. Buffalo won 3-2 in a shoot-out. I enjoyed watching the young Sabres. It’s quite a surprise to see Buffalo atop the NHL standings based on their record over the last few years, or is it?
As I was watching the game, I was so impressed by their skill level, their speed and play making ability that I decided to analyze this roster a little closer. My analysis confirmed my impression. This is a team with a lot of potential for this season and for the future.
I recognized some first round selection players so, I started counting them and totaled nine (9) in this game and two who were scratched. (Berglund and Girgensons) This makes a total of 11 first rounders on this roster. Eight of them were top ten and four were top three selections. How many teams in the NHL can count 11 first round picks on their roster? My guess is, very few, if any.
Rasmus Dahlin and Jack Eichel are worth the price of admission. Jeff Skinner has regained his scoring touch playing on the top line with Eichel. I’ve been a fan of Kyle Okposo all along. Rasmus Ristolainen shows a lot of potential as does Tage Thompson. For those of you who are counting, here are the other first rounders: Casey Mittelstadt (2018 1st overall), Sam Reinhart, Zach Bogosian.
Signing free agent goalie Carter Hutton has been a good move so far. Linus Ullmark is still young with some potential. Goaltending performance will be a significant factor to their success this season. So far so good.
Add to this a young coach who can relate and teach those young prospects, a couple of good veterans and there’s a recipe for success. Hats off to Jason Botterill and Randy Sexton and their staff for turning this team around much faster than predicted.