Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Just a quick look at what some media members are saying about the Buffalo Sabres and their upcoming season:
Kevin Allen, USA Today: Plenty of new arrivals for Buffalo with Allen calling GM Tim Murray "a man of great vision." Points out that uber prospect Jack Eichel is coming into a situation where he has a strong, young supporting cast to help in the transition. Allen calls Zemgus Girgensons " a born leader and gritty competitor," thinks Rasmus Ristolainen's ice-time will be in the low 20's and his point total "could rise from 20 to 40-plus," while also saying the youngster to watch is Sam Reinhart, whom he called "a prime prospect.
" Neither Rome nor the Sabres were built in a day," summarizes Allen. "The Sabres were 45 points out of a playoff spot last season. They can’t make that up in a season. Pick them as the NHL’s most improved team, but still seventh in the Atlantic."
Allan Muir, SI.com: Muir writes that Murray, "threw out the traditional draft-and-hold approach and charted a more dramatic and risky path to contention." He also points out that the Sabres are strong down the middle and also feels an eye should be kept on Reinhart who he writes, "will have a sizeable learning curve, especially without the puck," and forward Evander Kane who's "ready to get his hockey life back."
"The defense is a work in progress and Murray gambled heavily on Robin Lehner as his new starting goalie," continued Muir. He feels that "the Sabres will be a better team in 2015-16 and certainly more entertaining. The playoffs are a whole lot closer than they were this time last season. Prediction--74 points, seventh in the Atlantic."
Jen Neale, Yahoo's Puck Daddy: Neale covers Buffalo's "extreme makeover" aptly and in a very cool approach lists Eichel as first on her "five most fascinating players" section. She lists him in the 2-5 spots with a strike-through while adding (in order)--Lehner, Kane, Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Ennis. Neale loves a possible 3-on-3 line of Kane, Eichel and Ennis writing of the three, "In the immortal words of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson: SPEEEEEEEEED."
Attention is paid to head coach "Disco" Dan Bylsma as Neale points out that "he fits what the Sabres need in their transitional period. Bylsma is a players coach who can work with young players shouldering huge expectations." Prediction--"They’ll miss the playoffs but make significant strides towards turning things around."
Joe McDonald, ESPN.com: "There's been a major culture change in upstate New York," writes McDonald. "How long will it be before the Sabres begin to see the results of the rebuild? It won't happen overnight, but there's a lot to be excited about in Buffalo." That excitement includes players like Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly while giving props to the Sabres for signing Cody Franson and acknowledging Bylsma and the "instant credibility" he brought to the organization.
A cool thing he also mentions is that the Sabres "are loaded with young talent and many of those players will participate in the World Cup of Hockey next year." But for this season, McDonald writes, "There's no way the Sabres will be as bad as they were last season, Buffalo should have a better season, but reaping the benefits of the rebuild will take more than one season. Prediction--eighth in the Atlantic Division.
The Hockey News: "Between 1979 and 2009, 10 teams drafted in the top two in consecutive years," begins THN's season preview of the Buffalo Sabres. "Five of them reached the Stanley Cup final within eight seasons and three won the Cup. Buffalo, after bottoming out for two straight second-overall picks, hopes to join the list." The ascent begins, they write, with the forward group with Eichel, O'Reilly and Kane, but they also point out that "the D-corps remains a major weakness," saying Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian "will be forced to play top-pair minutes but are better suited to supporting roles."
"The Sabres added about five wins of talent to the roster this season which is the most of any team, writes THN in their outlook. "It’s a huge injection of skill, but what it really shows is just how terrible Buffalo was last season. Take five wins off their current projection and you get a true-talent 69 point team. Most teams fall within the 80-to-100 point range, so a number below 70 is shockingly low. That’s the hill Buffalo has to climb to get out of the NHL’s basement and while this season is a good start, there’s a lot of mountain left for them."
TSN's Frank Servalli's "bold prediction" for the Sabres: Eichel will beat out Edmonton wunderkind Connor McDavid for the Calder Trophy. "He will feed three-time 30-goal scorer Matt Moulson and push the Sabres go the brink of the playoffs." New players "will account for a 35-point turnaround, but the Sabres will fall short of the playoffs."