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Sabres Season Previews

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As I find Previews of the 2019-20 Sabres I will post them here.  Feel free to post links to one you find as well.  

Here is the first:

https://theathletic.com/1166711/2019/08/31/2019-20-nhl-season-preview-buffalo-sabres/

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No fan base deserves this level of suffering. It deserves hope. Sorry to say, it’s not getting it here as the 2019-20 season looks like more of the same. The Sabres have a 94 percent chance of extending their playoff-miss streak to nine seasons.

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Buffalo’s core is starting to take shape and the team has some good pieces, but its depth is severely lacking. The Sabres need a lot of things to go right in order to be a different team this season and it starts with the supporting cast, especially up front.

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Market Expectations 

Buffalo Sabres: 83.5 points

The market is more bullish on the Sabres, possibly due to seeing the team surge at the start of the year. I’m skeptical they should be this high until they trade Ristolainen for a piece up front, but I can see the argument for it. My model and the market aren’t that far off.

 

 

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I know that these people have jobs to do, but I could never bring myself to make a season preview when it appears that so much NHL action is being held up until the last second. Our roster might be quite different than it looks right now come October.

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6 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I know that these people have jobs to do, but I could never bring myself to make a season preview when it appears that so much NHL action is being held up until the last second. Our roster might be quite different than it looks right now come October.

I tend to agree.  We have no idea on who will be actually lining up for the Sabres this fall, so it;s very hard to guess what the line combo and their effectiveness is going to be.

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51 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I know that these people have jobs to do, but I could never bring myself to make a season preview when it appears that so much NHL action is being held up until the last second. Our roster might be quite different than it looks right now come October.

 

44 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I tend to agree.  We have no idea on who will be actually lining up for the Sabres this fall, so it;s very hard to guess what the line combo and their effectiveness is going to be.

Lower your expectations for further moves. Risto will be moved for a Roslovic type player and a pick/Perreault type add. I know there are RFA holdups but Botterill isn't going to make like 3 significant moves in September. We don't have the moveable assets aside from Risto, ones that will actually fetch a solid return. Short of a hockey type trade of a Reinhart or something. 

To me the dream of moving Ristolainen for a top 6 quality forward is long gone, being this close to the start of the season. If he had that kind of value it would have happened already. 

Edited by Thorny

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17 minutes ago, Thorny said:

 

Lower your expectations for further moves. Risto will be moved for a Roslovic type player and a pick/Perreault type add. I know there are RFA holdups but Botterill isn't going to make like 3 significant moves in September. We don't have the moveable assets aside from Risto, ones that will actually fetch a solid return. Short of a hockey type trade of a Reinhart or something. 

To me the dream of moving Ristolainen for a top 6 quality forward is long gone, being this close to the start of the season. If he had that kind of value it would have happened already. 

I'm not claiming we're going to do anything, but there are very real whispers about Ristolainen, I think McCabe, and even a guy like Gardiner, connected to Buffalo. And Risto for any forward (whether good or not) while bringing in another top 4 D is a large enough change that I'm going to wait for it to happen (or not) before I start writing up meaningful lineups or predictions

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42 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I'm not claiming we're going to do anything, but there are very real whispers about Ristolainen, I think McCabe, and even a guy like Gardiner, connected to Buffalo. And Risto for any forward (whether good or not) while bringing in another top 4 D is a large enough change that I'm going to wait for it to happen (or not) before I start writing up meaningful lineups or predictions

We also have no idea about half the roster slots because of internal competition and players with health issues.  Capfriendly lists Wilson, Girgensons, Larsson and Sobatka as part of our forward group, but Olofsson, Routsalainen, Thompson an CJ Smith are going to have legit chances to beat them out.  Our bottom six was terrible last year as the article said, therefore no one’s job is safe.   Now add to the mix where are people going to play.  Where in our top 9 do we slot Erod, Vesey, Sheary, Mitts, Olofsson, and Johansson? 

On defense, Bogo and Pilut’s status is unknown, Hunwick is out, This gives guys like Jokiharju, Borgen and or Gilmour a shot at making the team.  This is without Risto being traded. 

Here are two legit possible D starting lineups

Dahlin Montour

Pilut Risto

McCabe Miller

or

Dahlin Montour

Bogo Miller

Scandella Jokiharju

This is just much to early to even guess-timate what the opening night roster will be. 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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The reservations expressed upthread regarding the roster being unsettled at this date are valid, but I think that Athletic article is one of the best pieces they've done on the Sabres.

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Every year the so called experts pick everything and it's always based almost entirely on last year. So St. Louis will be favored to win the cup and in Canada the talk will be is this the Leafs year finally.........and it'll all be rubbish as teams rise and fall and surprise.

There is simply no way to accurately predict what will happen with what we have. Far too many variables at play. I can see a scenario of complete disaster making us the worst (or near worst) in the league. I can also see a scenario of lots coming together and finally challenging for, or possibly even making the playoffs. I'm going to admit it, this year I just don't know.

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Here are some snippets from the Athletic preview that I found particularly trenchant:

 

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The Sabres have missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons and in that time frame have won just 230 of their 622 games — 23 fewer than Edmonton, the next worst team. In that span, Buffalo has finished 19th, 23rd, 30th, 30th, 23rd, 26th, 31st and 27th. That’s seven straight seasons in the league’s bottom third and five of the last six seasons in which the team finished in the league’s bottom five.

On both accounts, the Sabres are in a league of their own. Not a single other team shares their standings pain. In fact, that miserable run transcends the NHL. No team in the NBA, the NFL or MLB has shared the same level of consistent futility as the Sabres have shown over the last seven seasons.

[nfreeman comment:  What a great freaking idea the tank turned out to be.]

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Coaching effects aren’t accounted for here and that can be a reason for optimism.

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Buffalo is well-situated with its top six (under the assumption Casey Mittelstadt eventually makes due on his potential), but the bottom six is severely lacking and that’s where its main trouble lies.

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The key is how that new-look third line [projected to be ERod, Vesey and Olofssson] fares, and while there is some offensive upside, it’s no guarantee and may come with a cost.

For starters, all three appear to be shoot-first players with Rodriques and Vesey having a high shot-to-shot assist ratio and Olofsson being primarily a scorer in the minors. That could mean it may take some time for the trio to find chemistry. Rodrigues looks legit, an under-the-radar player who blossomed in the second half while the rest of the team was sinking. His average Game Score after Jan. 1 was 0.59, a second-line caliber rate off the strength of a 53 percent expected-goals percentage — second to only Sam Reinhart. Not bad, but there are still questions with the other two.

With Olofsson, last year’s AHL point rate is strong, but doing so at 23 takes some shine away from the numbers and may not translate directly to the big leagues — though he did look good in a six-game stint. With Vesey, the issue is defense, and that’s the cost that may take away from the line’s potential. Vesey’s defensive impact is the worst on the team and is the 10th-lowest among forwards league-wide. He’s only average offensively and it’s not enough to mitigate his negative impact in his own zone. It’s why he’s perilously close to replacement level and shouldn’t be counted on for much in Buffalo. If that can be fixed, there’s hope for the third line here, but that’s a big if.

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The fourth line, on the other hand, looks a bit more dire, rating as the league’s third worst. All three of Larsson, Girgensons and Okposo provide a boost defensively, but it’s mitigated entirely by how anemic each player is offensively.

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Having [Reino on the 2nd line] gives it legitimacy, as does the addition of the solid Marcus Johansson, who capably replaces Jason Pominville’s unheralded value (who’ll be missed more than most think), but everything about the Sabres’ immediate future rests on Mittelstadt, who would surely like a do-over after a trying rookie season.

...

As expected with most big drops, the big issue was goaltending. In the first half of the season, the Sabres had a borderline top-five goaltending duo. In the second half, the Sabres had the second worst.

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In terms of shot quality against, Buffalo actually ranked seventh best for the season, but that didn’t matter to Hutton or Ullmark after January, when both goalies had sub-.900 save percentages and cost the Sabres win after win. With neither goalie looking like a legitimate starter, that appears to be Buffalo’s biggest issue and what likely hurts its chances of taking a step forward.


 

 

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Lmaooooo that guy totally stole my "Sabres have performed worse than any franchise in pro sports since 2013" analysis 

And our top six are not well-situated, our top 3 are. Our top six includes the worst 2C situation in the league until proven otherwise

 

Edited by Randall Flagg
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On 9/1/2019 at 1:06 PM, Randall Flagg said:

Lmaooooo that guy totally stole my "Sabres have performed worse than any franchise in pro sports since 2013" analysis 

And our top six are not well-situated, our top 3 are. Our top six includes the worst 2C situation in the league until proven otherwise

Agreed.  I think the situation is basically the opposite of what the author stated.  The bottom 6 is well situated, but the top 6 is definitly lacking quality.

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I'd describe it as the bookends being reasonable, not elite, but reasonable (Skinner-Jack-Sam and Zemgus-Larry-Okposo, at least relative to what each line is expected to bring), but sandwiching immense disappointment between them

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8 minutes ago, Randall Flagg said:

I'd describe it as the bookends being reasonable, not elite, but reasonable (Skinner-Jack-Sam and Zemgus-Larry-Okposo, at least relative to what each line is expected to bring), but sandwiching immense disappointment between them

I think that some combination of Sheary, Rodrigues, Olofsson, Mittelstadt, Johansson, Vesey can make a really good 3rd line to go with the decent Z-Larry-Ok 4th line.  The problem is that after you fill out that really good 3rd line, none of the other guys are good enough to be 2nd line players.  So I say the top 6 is weak, because that’s what we lack, not enough top 6 forwards.

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2 hours ago, dudacek said:

This one is a little more optimistic: Sabres ranked 21st.

https://thehockeywriters.com/nhl-power-rankings-based-on-positional-rankings/

This one seems a little more realistic until it gets to the top 5, and then I start to question how these were put together.  Then again, I know they would say they're not ranking playoff success, just regular season success.

 

 

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On 9/2/2019 at 6:27 PM, Curt said:

I think that some combination of Sheary, Rodrigues, Olofsson, Mittelstadt, Johansson, Vesey can make a really good 3rd line to go with the decent Z-Larry-Ok 4th line.  The problem is that after you fill out that really good 3rd line, none of the other guys are good enough to be 2nd line players.  So I say the top 6 is weak, because that’s what we lack, not enough top 6 forwards.

I am fine with Okposo because I think in that role he actually does well but Zemgus and Larsson need to be pushed off this roster or step up. I hate penciling them into the 4th line because while Z in particular offers good pk skills, his offense is putrid. 

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I don’t really have to much of an issue with anything the above articles say about the Sabres.  I do think that if Risto is traded, it’s going to be a 4 or 5 player deal with Risto and a winger like Sheary heading out for a good forward and forward prospect.   

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

I am fine with Okposo because I think in that role he actually does well but Zemgus and Larsson need to be pushed off this roster or step up. I hate penciling them into the 4th line because while Z in particular offers good pk skills, his offense is putrid. 

Where was Zemgus last year even strength pts/60 in relation to the rest of the team?

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