Buffalo Sabres Details
In 2016-17, the Buffalo Sabres finished 8th in the Atlantic Division, tallying just 78 points all season. With a record of 33-37-12, the Sabres were far from playoff contention and there wasn’t a lot for fans in the KeyBank Center to cheer about. This marked six straight years without a playoff birth for Buffalo and, after two years of poor performance, head coach Dan Bylsma was shown the door. For the 2017-18 season, Phil Housley was hired to stand behind the bench after spending the last four years as an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators. With Housley, the Sabres have new hope and a new look to the roster. Long-time captain Brian Gionta is gone, an unrestricted free agent who was a 15-goal, 20-assist forward for the Sabres last season but his veteran leadership has been replaced by former Minnesota Wild winger Jason Pominville (13 goals, 34 assists). Goaltender Chad Johnson returns to Buffalo after spending a year in Calgary. He’ll be a goalie tandem with Robin Lehner. The defense has been tweaked as well, with the KHL’s Victor Antipin joining the team as well as Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu.
The offense has some pieces that should work well with a better all-around roster next season. Of course, there is third-year star Jack Eichel, who missed 21 games last year and still led the team in goals (24) and total points (57). Eichel will certainly be a candidate for the team’s next captain and, as long as he can stay healthy, should make an even bigger impact in his third season. Second on the team in scoring last year was Ryan O’Reilly, who finished the season with 20 goals and 35 assists in 72 games. Sam Reinhart, Kyle Okposo, and Evander Kane round out the Sabres’ top scorers who should generate a great deal of the offense during the 2017-18 season.