As we give thanks north of the border, Sabres fans give thanks for one man, Taylor Hall. Hall pushed his chips all in on a 1 year, 8M contract with the Sabres this week and really solidified the top 6 with Eric Stall joining the group in mid-September. The question is, is this enough to put the Sabres over the hump?
Offence: The Sabres top 6 can now rival any in the NHL. Eichel and Stall up the middle with Hall, Reinhart, Skinner and rookie sensation Viktor Olofsson to round out the top 6. The bottom 6 is where it gets interesting. Can Mittlestadt and Asplund be difference makers? Can Cozens crack the line up? Can Okposo stay healthy? Can Girgensons ratchet up his nasty play? There is a lot to be hopeful for in Buffalo, but you can’t win on hope.
Defence: Everything runs through the Rasmus’. Dahlin is a year older and is expected to take another step this season. Ristolainen has been the rumour of trade talks for a few seasons now, but I think the Sabres would be looking for the exact same player if they ever moved him. After the big 2, their D gets as limp as Pats D after too many beers. McCabe, Montour, Jokiharju and Miller is as by committee as it gets. Desperately lacking goals from the back end, the Sabres need to get more pucks through from the point and really up Dahlin’s minutes if they want to make a playoff push with this back end.
Goaltending: To me, this is the achilles heel of the Sabres organization. With a glutton of goalies on the current market, you can’t expect to be battling for a playoff spot with Ullmark and Hutton as your 1-2 punch. Their goalie of the future, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is still a few years away and the time is now with Hall on a 1 year deal. Personally, I would move on from 34 year old Carter Hutton, set my sites on Marc-Andre Fleury and call it a day. Ullmark is only 27, Ukko-Pekka is 21 and with 2 years left on MAF’s contract, it could be a nice transition for the Sabres current net issues.
Give us your 2 cents? Are the Sabres a playoff team?