It is time for the Buffalo Sabres to start emulating the success of their neighbors.
Life is pretty sweet for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL right now, who are sitting atop the AFC East with a 7-2 record, and their success should only motivate the Buffalo Sabres.
What a tough ride it has been for the Sabres who are the perennial laughing stock of the National Hockey League having not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2010-11 season, the longest current active streak in the league.
Despite gaining a generational talent in Jack Eichel with the No.2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Sabres have consistently failed to capitalize and they’ve also failed to surround their face of the franchise and Captain with the adequate pieces needed to be competitive, let alone win in the NHL.
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Granted, there are some notable building blocks in place including well-respected Head Coach Ralph Krueger, who is slowly trying to build a winning culture in Western New York, and high-end defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.
If you also include forward and goal machine Victor Olofsson, who had a hugely productive rookie year, playmaker Sam Reinhart, defensemen Colin Miller, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen and goalie Linus Ullmark, the Sabres do boast a pretty solid core,
Plus, new General Manager Kevyn Adams made his mission clear from the get-go, making moves via Free Agency and the trade market to both establish the right culture inside the locker room while making the team competitive now.
In came veteran center Eric Staal who will form a lethal one-two punch with Eichel while bringing much-needed leadership and experience to the locker room, bottom-six forward Cody Eakin and, in what was a blockbuster move that sent seismic waves throughout the NHL, 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall was signed to a one-year, $8 million contract.
Hall and Eichel on the same line should strike fear throughout the entire NHL, and the Sabres will be hoping that Hall can rediscover the secret sauce that saw him put up 93 points (39 G, 54 A) in 76 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18.
As already mentioned, Staal and Eakin will strengthen Buffalo down the middle and 2020-21 should be the year that Dahlin takes that next giant leap and establishes himself as the elite blueliner we all think he has the potential to grow into.
Having Jeff Skinner on the second line with Staal as his pivot should help the winger bounce back from a difficult 2019-20 season, where he recorded just 23 points (14 G, 9 A) in 59 regular season games. Skinner is better than that and if he can right the ship and get back to being an offensive juggernaut, then that will only help Buffalo’s cause in 2020-21.
With some intriguing prospects in the pipeline, there is no doubt that things are moving in the right direction for the Sabres but, as is the case with everyone who lets us down in crushing ways time and time again, they will have to let their actions do the talking and prove to us that they are finally the real deal.
All the pieces appear to be there and, while there are still some flaws to be addressed at a later date, the Buffalo Sabres should at least be a lot more competitive in 2020-21 and at least be in the postseason picture until the bitter end.
And, if they need any motivation then Jack Eichel and the Sabres should look no further than Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, who recently ended their own Playoff drought and are slowly establishing themselves as a force in the NFL.
Now it is time for the Buffalo Sabres to finally start doing the same thing.