Buffalo Sabres 2019-20 Season Preview
The Buffalo Sabres had an unfortunate end to the season in 2019, but the first half of the season will not be forgotten. They might have lost the chemistry they had throughout November, but that only showed us the tip of the iceberg. There was a clear lack of talent, but they came together through that stretch and became the scariest team in hockey. There are a lot of things that go into becoming a talented hockey team. The Sabres have made some progress in getting there.
Let’s start with the off-season moves they’ve made to get back to glory:
GM Jason Botterill has had a busy off-season, to say the least. He made it a clear priority to make this team better on the defensive end. The first big move he made was trading for Vegas Golden Knights defenseman, Colin Miller for close to nothing. Shortly after, he added former Ranger, Jimmy Vesey, who many Sabres fans remember turning down an offer coming out of college. But it is time to move on and not dwell in the past.
The most surprising move was when Botterill shipped forward Alex Nylander out for another defenseman, Henri Jokiharju. Botterill made himself look like the winner of this trade because Jokiharju’s production at the NHL level was far more successful compared to Nylander’s contributions to this point. He made a really good signing in Marcus Johansson, somebody who can contribute to the top six at a high level, if healthy. The Sabres also added great veteran depth throughout the system by adding players like Curtis Lazar and Jean-Sébastien Dea.
We already know about players like Rasmus Dahlin, and Casey Mittelstadt, however, the Sabres have supplemented their young core by adding Jokiharju as I previously mentioned. Ukko-Pekka Lukkonnen will also play in the American Hockey League this season. Victor Olofsson, who came in late last season and produced, could have the opportunity to be in the top six this coming season. Botterill knows it’s key to have talented young players contribute, so look out for these young guys to get their shot. You can also look at somebody like Tage Thompson, who struggled last season but will continue to grow his game. Maybe even Arttu Ruotsalainen could make the transition into the NHL, and build the young core even more.
Us as fans have to set a realistic goal for the Buffalo Sabres this year. Reaching the playoffs would be ideal, however, just becoming a team that can at least come close would be great. As long as the Sabres can build upon what they had in the earlier stages of last season, they should be great. Jack Eichel has to continue to grow as a leader to help steer the ship for the Sabres. We need the voices in the locker room to be heard, that’s a big part of why we hired Ralph Krueger. The season is long, and the Sabres are a part of one of the toughest divisions in all of hockey, but we can start getting better this year, and that’s what is important. All in all the overall expectation has to start with winning, and winning now.
Ben Ressler is a Buffalo Sabres contributor at Overtime Heroics. Follow him @ressler_ben
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