Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sabres fall to bottom of league, time to get a good look at the youngins

Published by hockeybuzz, 3-14-2018

With Arizona's 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings last night, the Coyotes moved from the bottom of the league into 30th place. The team they just jumped?

The Buffalo Sabres.

Right now, with 13 games left in the regular season the Buffalo is in an all too familiar spot with the yes of Sabreland fixated upon the NHL Draft Lottery and the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, TX. However, before they get there the front office and coaching staff seem intent upon getting a good look at their young players before heading into the off season.

With the Rochester Americans all but assured of making the playoffs for the first time in three years, there is time for some of their key players to get a good taste of the NHL before they begin their post season. Yesterday Buffalo called up goalie Linus Ullmark, who's looking like he'll be the team MVP once again, and this morning the Sabres called up forward Justin Bailey. The duo will join forward Nicolas Baptiste who's been up for a dozen games dating back to February 13 and defenseman Brendan Guhle who was called up March 4.

Defenseman Casey Nelson spent the first half of the season in Rochester and was recalled on January 17, playing in 25 games for the Sabres while forwards Kyle Criscuolo and Seth Griffith were recent recalls, with the latter two suffering injuries during their short stints.

That's a lot of youth and a lot of focus on the future of the Buffalo Sabres. As it should be. At yesterday's practice veterans Benotit Pouliot, Jacob Josefson and Jordan Nolan made up the Sabres fourth line while veteran d-men Josh Gorges and Justin Falk were the fourth pair.

Of all the moves, maybe Ullmark's was the most curious since it seems as if both Robin Lehner and backup Chad Johnson seem healthy, but it's also the most logical considering the Amerks are pretty much assured a playoff spot and Rochester backup Adam Wilcox has been more than dependable. Sabres head coach Phil Housley put it this way concerning Ullmark, "We felt it was a good time to call Linus up," he told the gathered media post-practice yesterday. "He's certainly deserved to be up here. We're going to continue to evaluate all our players, especially our goaltenders. … He's going to get an opportunity. When that is, I don't know."

Where, or even if, Bailey fits in to plans for tomorrows game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs may have a lot to do with how Jack Eichel feels. Eichel has been sidelined since a high-ankle sprain felled him in a game against the Boston Bruins on February 10. Although those at the rink said he looked like never missed a beat during a very tough first practice, how he recovers today and tomorrow will determine whether or not he's a go.

All that said, here's where the Sabres are right now in the standings:

26th--Montreal (64 points)
27th--Detroit (63)
28th--Ottawa (61)
29th--Vancouver (59)
30th--Arizona (57)
31st--Buffalo (56)

With 13 games remaining in the season, the Sabres are in last place and if the season were to end now, they'd have a 18.5% chance of winning the lottery to select first-overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.

31st place--18.5%

There is an NHL lottery simulator web site which has become very popular for Sabres fans the last few years, when you go there you can pick the winners for the first three spots in the draft.

For today this is what I came up with:

1.  Calgary
2.  NY Rangers 
3.  Buffalo

4.  Arizona
5.  Vancouver

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