This 31-part series chronicles why each team is going to be trash in the 2018-2019 NHL season. Progressing alphabetically, three teams will be featured weekly during the off-season. A compendium 31-part series will be published by Hockey Doc (@RealHockeyDoc) on www.BeerLeagueTalk.coom on why your team is good in the 2018-2019 NHL season.
Ah, the Buffaloaf Sabres. A team that’s been to the Stanley Cup finals twice and come home empty handed in as many times in their entire 48 year history. A team that’s enjoyed the services of goaltending legend/slinky person Dominik Hasek, arguably the best goaltender to ever grace the NHL. A team that hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since the 2011-2012 season and won’t again in the 2018-2019 season.
Hasek in his prime couldn’t get this team into the playoffs. The Sabres couldn’t afford to get Dom out of the clink anyway for all the times he’d be arrested for drunkenly racing his Ferrari through downtown as he blows off the steam of losing 50+ games a season.
What a stud though, amirite?
The Buffalo Sabres snagged Rasmus Dahlin first overall this year in the draft and by all accounts this is a guy a franchise should be built around. He was the youngest player to ever dress for team Sweden in the IIHF World U20 Championships at 16 and now at 18 he’ll be entering the NHL. Dahlin is 6’3″ and 185 lbs, so he could probably stand to gain a solid 15 pounds but he’s supposed to have it all: skating ability, dangles, vision, and finishing ability. He’s also been playing professionally in the Swedish Hockey League for Frölunda HC, so he’s got pro experience, but it’s all been in Europe. He has shown physicality but it’s always interesting to see how European players make the transition to the North American game where every player throws the body. Plus with a hype monster like this, he’s going to have all eyes on him and haters (like me) will jump all over his shit if he doesn’t have a strong rookie showing. Buffalo fans better hope he can handle that pressure. Funny fact: Dahlin is from Trollhättan, Sweden…fucking perfect. He’s going to take a couple years to develop into his final form so while he may have a great upside and may even make an immediate difference on this Buffalo team, I’m not convinced it’s enough to get to the dance.
The Sabres have also returned to their roots and signed, what they think will be, a top talent goalie in Carter Hutton. Hutton had a great season backing up habitual bedshitter Jake Allen posting a 17-7-0 record while sporting an impressive 2.09 GAA and .931 save percentage. Though he has played 40 games in the 2013-2014 season, relieving injured Nashville starter Pekka Rinne, he has never been a starter at the beginning of any of the 6 seasons he’s played in. Here again – a lot of expectations for this guy, in his first starting gig at age 32.
Some nice additions that could help them this year is Connor Sheary and Patrik Berglund. A cap strapped Penguins team let Sheary go to Buffalo for a half-eaten ham sammie. Patrik Berglund came over with Sobotka and a couple high picks as the Sabres shipped out Ryan O’Reilly, who was sad about losing. This move gives some more depth to support Eichel and provides some secondary scoring. Management definitely has a plan and is moving towards it, with plenty of cap space currently, but even they know they’re probably going to miss the playoffs this year.
With these new faces, Phil Housley will be able to install his system and show the league what his team can do. A players coach, Housley intends on developing the younger Sabres defensemen into a core that can go deep. He wants an aggressive forecheck that has scoring options on the blue line. In his sophomore year as head coach, he knows there’s a lot of work ahead and to expect drastic immediate results is unrealistic. But at least he has some idea of the team’s identity… Lookin at you Arizona.
While the Buffalo Sabres are poised to start improving, to expect a team that finished dead last in the league last season to become a contender in the next season is a little much.
That’s why the Buffalo Sabres are trash in 2018-2019.
Check out my overview of why other teams will be trash
Check out why the Sabres Will be Good
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