The Eliminated: 2021 Buffalo Sabres Edition

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The eliminated is a new series where a team that has been eliminated from the playoffs is discussed. Specifically what went wrong and what their future holds.  As some may know at this point the Buffalo Sabres have less than a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs.  Essentially, they have been eliminated.  With this in mind, it is time to look at what went wrong.

What Lead Them to Getting Eliminated

What didn’t go wrong is more like it. The finger can be pointed at a few key figures though, starting with Taylor Hall, one of the additions in the off-season. Ever since his Hart Trophy season, Hall has been overrated and in fact, there is an interesting trend surrounding him. Teams seem to start losing once he comes to them. 

The Arizona Coyotes. for instance, received him in a trade last season to bolster the team from doing well to Stanley Cup contender. The exact opposite happened as the Coyotes stalled out for the rest of the year. The Sabres also hoped to increase their chances at the playoffs, but Hall hasn’t been very good at all and the team is worse this year than last despite adding talent.  

How bad has Hall been playing? He has two goals in 30 games played. He also has yet to score 20 or more goals or have more than 52 points in a season since his Hart Trophy year. He deserves credit for his 16 assists but quite frankly the Sabres didn’t pay Hall $8 million to have a measly two goals in 30 games.  

Next up is Jack Eichel. This one is different from Hall because Eichel is usually a great player. Points-wise, this year it hasn’t been his typical standard. He also has only scored two goals so far. It is truly not Eichel’s way but as for this season, he has been downright awful when it comes to scoring seeing as though he has been basically non-existent in that category.

Finally, let’s look at Jeff Skinner. Typically Skinner is a 50-60 point scorer and usually has around 20-30 or so goals. This season, Skinner has an astronomically low 4 points in 30 games played. That’s right, all of these players have been healthy and just haven’t played well. Skinner at one point in the season was being beaten points-wise by a goalie! Yes, that is correct. Tristan Jarry had three assists which was more the Skinner earlier this year.

If that wasn’t bad enough, think about this, the Sabres are paying three players a combined 27 million this year to score only seven goals so far this season! Unacceptable doesn’t begin to cover it.

Now we move on to the goaltending. This is yet another reason the Sabres will be eliminated. Carter Hutton has been nothing short of a disaster in net. With an .886 save percentage and a 3.47 goals-against average it’s no wonder the Sabres have been losing games when he is in net. Goalies are one of the most important positions in hockey and in about half their games they have not had an acquit goaltender in the net.

Will Getting Eliminated Continue in the Future?

With only winning six games so far and general being a gigantic failure, there is a silver lining for the Sabres. They have a chance for the #1 overall pick in the 2021 draft. Getting eliminated is unfortunate and the fact that there is only a chance of getting the #1 pick isn’t great either but it is better than no chance at all.

As for their overall future chances they don’t appear to be all that good. The Sabres aren’t exactly the most trustworthy franchise in the sense of consistent success. They have had portions of previous seasons where they have been fantastic but then wasted it away and missed the playoffs. This has happened multiple times.

If they were a normal team in a rebuild it would be better. Also, consider Jack Eichel may eventually get sick of this and demand a trade. Everyone’s predictions on the Sabres is they were supposed to be better than this. There isn’t much hope here and getting eliminated will be a norm in the future as it also is in the present.

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