Are the Buffalo Sabres for Real this Season?

by Glenn Kaplan
by Glenn Kaplan

The Buffalo Sabres had the number one pick in the NHL Draft last offseason. They selected defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with that pick. He has helped the blue line in a big way so far this season. Dahlin has scored one goal and recorded four assists, in 14 games so far this season. His plus/minus is -1.

Speaking of number one picks, the last two teams who had the number one pick in the draft made it to the playoffs the next season. The Buffalo Sabres made many personnel changes to the roster this past offseason.

General Manager Jason Botterill was a busy man and he was at one time an Associate General Manager with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Phil Housely is in his second year as the coach. He was the Nashville Predators assistant coach before then.

Buffalo's record so far this season is 7-5-2 with 16 points. They are currently in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, but the Sabres currently hold the second wild card spot in the east. The Buffalo Sabres have scored 42 goals and given up 41 goals so far this season.

A 9-2 win at home on Saturday afternoon against the Ottawa Senators shows that Buffalo is improving big time. Ottawa is in a rebuilding phase, but teams like the Sabres need to show their improvement.

Jack Eichel has scored four goals and recorded 13 assists. His plus/minus is even. Jeff Skinner, who was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade this past offseason, has scored nine goals and recorded seven assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 12. Jason Pomminville has scored eight goals and recorded six assists. His plus/minus is 9.

Kyle Okposo and Conor Sheary each have scored four goals. Sam Reinhart, Jake McCabe, and Rasmus Ristolainen each have scored one goal this season. Rookie Casey Mittelstadt has scored two goals and recorded three assists so far this season. His plus/minus was -3.

Carter Hutton's record so far this season is 4-5-1 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA. Lunis Ullmark's record so far this season is 3-0-1 with a .934 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA, along with one shutout.

Buffalo's goaltending situation is much better this season compared to the last couple of years.

They have not been to the playoffs since the 2010-2011 season. The Buffalo Sabres have been in a rebuild mode ever since. They are playing more competitively this season. The east is tough and Buffalo will need to keep playing at a high level.

They have a four game stretch in the month of November against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Winnipeg Jets, the Minnesota Wild, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That stretch will tell whether or not this team could be a playoff team this season.