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Can the Sabres make the Playoffs In this new division?


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I don't care about the perceived top 4 teams. I see no team listed that has a roster that is superior to ours. I see teams with rosters that may or may not be slightly better. 

Edited by LGR4GM
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Capitals, Penguins, Flyers are probably the top 3.

Boston could end up in that group, but are badly injured to start the season and are getting old.  As a result they are probably in the group below.

Then we have a group of Rangers, Islanders and Sabres (along with Boston) who will probably duke it out for the 4th playoff spot.

Then there is NJ at the bottom.

Thats how I see it shaking out.

So Buffalo could very well make the playoffs, but they are in the toughest division so it’s going to be difficult.

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The Rangers don't scare me. Their roster is either aging or completely void of anything threatening, I personally am not going to freak out over a goalie, especially since you get to face him enough times to figure out his weakness.

Bruins, solid team throughout but if Pastrnak and Marchand are injured I think that severally limits them. Pastrnak sounds like he will miss time and I would bet Marchand isn't up to full speed after his surgery. Still they present a challenge. 

Islanders, sorokin and barzal are about the only things that scare me there. Buffalo should trade them for Bellows if they aren't going to play him. They play a dull boring style of hockey and that's about it. 

Philadelphia, here's a team to watch. They have up front talent, they have defensive talent. They are solid in goal, the only real question is who is their top player and how good are there. There are a couple of candidates. They are a team that has enough speed to play a very modern style, should be interesting. 

Pittsburgh, they actually added potential wingers that don't suck for the first time in years. Sid and Evgeni aren't getting younger and I think their defense has giant holes in it. Basically if you can outgun them, you can beat them because their weakness is defense even if they have a decent forward group. The decades of poor drafting though are starting to show. 

Washington, they are getting old. While they have some threats, they are thin at forward and defense. John Carlson is their best defender and then some meh behind that. I suppose their big guns are still scary but again, they lack depth. 

The Devils... no. Hischier is good and Hughes will be better. Their defense is a dumpster fire. 

 

Buffalo Sabres, might as well talk about them. Solid team with some younger stars. I think their top 2 lines matchup with all these teams well, flyers and boston would be a little concerning. Islanders, Washington, Rangers not so much. Pittsburgh is I think similar in some ways. As for defense, there isn't a team on this list who's defense I would swap for ours. Most of them are older and Boston, maybe NYR have the only 2 young really good defenders that are a concern. Of course we have no idea what 10 months of off time has done for Dahlin. Guess that leaves GT and Ullmark as I have noted is on par with most of this group, if the PK is fixed. So really, while everyone is freaking out, this division isn't that scary with the exception of Boston (once healthy) and maybe philly. If you can't beat a 1 line Islanders team that is on you. If you can't beat an aging Washington, that's on you. If you can't beat the Rangers just ***** right off, that team has some of the worst center depth in the division. If you can't beat the Devils just sell the team. 

Basically if all these teams are better than Buffalo, you should fire EVERYONE, literally everyone. Trade Eichel and start over because at this point you either prove something or we blow it up. I am sick of the excuses and the wo is me BS. None of the teams in this division are perfect or unbeatable now that Buffalo has added Staal, Hall, Eakin to the forwards. If the Sabres can't get it done with all that in the lineup, the coach sucks, the players suck, and the team sucks so fire everyone down to the equipment managers and start over. 

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I think Eichel and Dahlin are 2 of the best players at their positions in the this division. Eichel is certainly 1 of the top 3 centers in this division and I think Dahlin will certainly be 1 of the top 2 defenders when the dust clears. 

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With Krug gone and Chara getting older by the minute I could see the Bruins take a big step back, but they still have Tuka. which is a huge plus for them.

I thought the Flyers could of won the cup last year. They looked really good.

The Islanders will be good again, no doubt. Boring but good.

Washington had to sign Conner Sheary, which makes me wonder about their depth but they still have a lot of firepower. Getting older, though.

I have no idea about the Pens.

The Rangers hopefully will still suck.

The Devils

Kruger better fix the PK, get the PP working and the goal tending can't suck.

I do like our chances. Good competition is a good thing.

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Ranking the division’s centres:

1C: Crosby Eichel Zibanejad, Bergeron Barzal Couturier, Backstrom Hischier 

A lot of very good players there. Jack is better than all of them and is, right now, probably on Sid’s level.

2C: Malkin, Kuznetsov, Staal, Krecji, Hayes, Nelson, Zajac, Strome

Malkin is clearly above the rest, then Kuz. Peak Staal and Krecji probably lead a solid tier of the others, but they are old.

3C: Pageau, Coyle, Eller, Laughton, Hughes, Chytil, Eakin, Jankowski, 

The first three are among the league’s best 3Cs. Chytil, and particularly Hughes have upside, but were mostly filler last year.  Last year’s Eakin was bad. Most versions would rank solidly mid-tier

4C: Zacha, Czizikas, Kuraly, Frost, Blueger, Lazar, Dowd, Howden

I don’t see Frost playing the 4C role (top 9 or minors) and Zacha is likely 3C for Jersey, or moved to the wing. Cizikas might be the leagues best 4C. Otherwise, in a mix of typical 4Cs, Lazar is as good as any.

Overall, the Sabres seem solidly competitive and will rise or fall based on what they get from the two new guys.

Edited by dudacek
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4 minutes ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

Is Sid healthy now?

If not at 100% I would put Jack a tad ahead of Sid.  If Sid is 100% then Jack is just a hair behind, but not for long.  Sid is 33 now, right?

I think Sid is still better than Eichel.  He should be healthy.  He will be 33 for the entirety of this coming season.

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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

Ranking the division’s centres:

1C: Crosby Eichel Zibanejad, Bergeron Barzal Couturier, Backstrom Hischier 

A lot of very good players there. Jack is better than all of them and is, right now, probably on Sid’s level.

2C: Malkin, Kuznetsov, Staal, Krecji, Hayes, Nelson, Zajac, Strome

Malkin is clearly above the rest, then Kuz. Peak Staal and Krecji probably lead a solid tier of the others, but they are old.

3C: Pageau, Coyle, Eller, Laughton, Hughes, Chytil, Eakin, Jankowski, 

The first three are among the league’s best 3Cs. Chytil, and particularly Hughes have upside, but were mostly filler last year.  Last year’s Eakin was bad. Most versions would rank solidly mid-tier

4C: Zacha, Czizikas, Kuraly, Frost, Blueger, Lazar, Dowd, Howden

I don’t see Frost playing the 4C role (top 9 or minors) and Zacha is likely 3C for Jersey, or moved to the wing. Cizikas might be the leagues best 4C. Otherwise, in a mix of typical 4Cs, Lazar is as good as any.

Overall, the Sabres seem solidly competitive and will rise or fall based on what they get from the two new guys.

Should do this for left wings next. 

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26 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

Should do this for left wings next. 

Going for hike right now, but I plan to work my way through.

Week off during the pandemic leaves a lot of extra time on my hands.😄

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I’m going to say yes. With very little time to organize teams and a compressed schedule, any team that gets off to a good start, has a legit chance.  Any team that gets off to a bad start, could be sunk.  I like the veteran leadership brought in. Hope springs eternal. Let’s do this.  Besides Staal owes us.  Love the Hall signing.  

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The Phlyers seem to be the best team on paper.

Won't bet against a Trotz coached team.

Which leaves 2 spots available for 6 teams.

Joisey is bad until proven otherwise.  The Rags might surprise if the goaltending excels, but with the upgrades the Sabres made IMHO the Sabres are better.

Have to believe at least 1 of the Pens, the B's, and the Caps will take a step back.  Somebody always does.

The door for the Sabres is open.  The Sabres forwards are clearly better on paper than last year as the only true downgrade is losing Larsson and the only other guy that wasn't clearly upgraded on paper is Kahun but he didn't have a clear spot on a line that he'd be able to play to his strengths.  And Hall & Staal are clear upgrades and several other slots upgraded as well.  The D will have Dahlin entering what should be his breakout season & they either have all the starting 6 playing their 2nd season under Kreuger's system which should also be a natural upgrade or they have 3LHD & 3RHD with Miller as the spare & at least 2 NHL caliber guys in the pressbox which should upgrade as well.  Upgrade Hutton at a minimum & somebody will have to outplay Buffalo to make it.  Keep the goaltending as it is and they still will be in the mix.

The PK forwards were improved.  If Ullmark improves his play there & the coaches believe he can bail out the skaters on the occasional slot shot breakdown,mthen the skaters will be allowed to play aggressively & the nearly worst PK is mid-pack at worst.  If the PP isn't top 5, either the division goaltending is elite across the board or somebody needs to be fired.  My expectation is that they'll be top 10 5v5 this year as well. 

IMHO, NS is correct.  This team makes the playoffs.  Improve the GT and they don't have to face Filly in the 1st round.  Get the February goaltending again & we're all reduced to hoping Hall brought his penchant for winning the lottery with him.  (Even if they end up standing pat, it shouldn't be that bad.)

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Although I think the team will be better and should get better as the season progresses especially if the GT's hold up but continuity, not playing is such a long time and the chemistry that needs to happen is all conjecture at this point. There's not one forward line that's the same as last year and who'll play with whom is still open. I just don't see them being able to jump the more established teams unless the injury bug falls in our favor. With an aging lineup on the Bruins, Caps and Penguins that is an opportunity that presents itself, otherwise no way. And I'm as big a homer as anyone

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41 minutes ago, jsb said:

Although I think the team will be better and should get better as the season progresses especially if the GT's hold up but continuity, not playing is such a long time and the chemistry that needs to happen is all conjecture at this point. There's not one forward line that's the same as last year and who'll play with whom is still open. I just don't see them being able to jump the more established teams unless the injury bug falls in our favor. With an aging lineup on the Bruins, Caps and Penguins that is an opportunity that presents itself, otherwise no way. And I'm as big a homer as anyone

I hold out hope but to me its much like every other year where everything that has to go right absolutely must go right and everything that can go wrong must not go wrong. Just to squeeze in. We get no favours from the N.H.L. But this team has to gel immediately and our goaltending needs to improve whether its the guys we have or another gt. If they make it its going to be a season to remember. 

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It's also worth noting that the Sabres start with 3 games against the Caps and 2 against the Flyers.  Let's hope AO has been living the Moscow party life for the past few months and shows up hung over and out of shape.

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7 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

It's also worth noting that the Sabres start with 3 games against the Caps and 2 against the Flyers.  Let's hope AO has been living the Moscow party life for the past few months and shows up hung over and out of shape.

True.  But it actually is 4 vs the Caps w/ a pair vs the Phlyers.

Better that way than reversed IMHO as my expectation is Filly is the squad to beat.  Win the 1st 2 at home & split the next 4 heading into a pair vs the Rags and they're in good shape.  Which is doable.  But start 2-4 or 1-5 & it'll be a tough hole to dig out of.

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One of the biggest issues with evaluating the Sabres playoff chances in this division is the Sabres have more question marks then our competition.

For example: 

At forward we’ll have at least 5 new forwards plus these questions

Hall - do we get MVP Hall or last year’s Hall

Eakin - do we get the 22 goals Eakin or 5 goal Eakin or something in between

Staal - How much does the 37 year old have left?

Skinner - Do we get 2019 Skinner or 2020 Skinner?

What If anything will we get from Cozens, Thompson, Mitts and or Rieder.

Will Lazar step up and replace Larsson as the shut down center?

On Defense

How much improvement will we see from Dahlin and Jokiharju?

In Goal

Will we get decent play from Hutton?


The Sabres were 24-24-8 at 56 games last season.  The Sabres need another 9 points in those 56 games to be a playoff team.  That means turning 5 of those losses into 4 wins and an OTL.  

With so many question marks it’s hard to get a real feel for what we have.  We all agree that the offense has to be better with the additions of Hall and Staal.  How much? Will it be enough to get us basically 5 extra wins?  Honestly, we are going to need Staal, Eakin Skinner and Hall to be closer to their peaks for this to work.


 

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23 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

One of the biggest issues with evaluating the Sabres playoff chances in this division is the Sabres have more question marks then our competition.

For example: 

At forward we’ll have at least 5 new forwards plus these questions

Hall - do we get MVP Hall or last year’s Hall

Eakin - do we get the 22 goals Eakin or 5 goal Eakin or something in between

Staal - How much does the 37 year old have left?

Skinner - Do we get 2019 Skinner or 2020 Skinner?

What If anything will we get from Cozens, Thompson, Mitts and or Rieder.

Will Lazar step up and replace Larsson as the shut down center?

On Defense

How much improvement will we see from Dahlin and Jokiharju?

In Goal

Will we get decent play from Hutton?


The Sabres were 24-24-8 at 56 games last season.  The Sabres need another 9 points in those 56 games to be a playoff team.  That means turning 5 of those losses into 4 wins and an OTL.  

With so many question marks it’s hard to get a real feel for what we have.  We all agree that the offense has to be better with the additions of Hall and Staal.  How much? Will it be enough to get us basically 5 extra wins?  Honestly, we are going to need Staal, Eakin Skinner and Hall to be closer to their peaks for this to work.


 

To the bolded: it's likely slightly tougher than that.

A 96 point season rounds up to 66 points and a 100 point season rounds down to 68.  The odds are high that the threshold is in that range.  Pick up 12 points every 10 games and they're at 60 with 6 games to play to get those last 6-8. Easy-peazy.  😉

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4 hours ago, Taro T said:

The Phlyers seem to be the best team on paper.

Won't bet against a Trotz coached team.

Which leaves 2 spots available for 6 teams.

Joisey is bad until proven otherwise.  The Rags might surprise if the goaltending excels, but with the upgrades the Sabres made IMHO the Sabres are better.

Have to believe at least 1 of the Pens, the B's, and the Caps will take a step back.  Somebody always does.

I don’t fully agree with your assessment of the division.

Why do you project Flyers out to tops in the division?  I do see them among the better teams, but I don’t see where they are clearly ahead of Washington in particular.  I think the division is Washington up top, NJ at the bottom, and a jumble in the middle.

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6 minutes ago, Curt said:

I don’t fully agree with your assessment of the division.

Why do you project Flyers out to tops in the division?  I do see them among the better teams, but I don’t see where they are clearly ahead of Washington in particular.  I think the division is Washington up top, NJ at the bottom, and a jumble in the middle.

Trust Filly's GT way more than the Caps.  Hart is a huge piece for them.  Also, not a huge fan of the Caps D after Carlson nor the bottom lines.  Ovie, Kuznetzov, & Backstrom are seriously solid & Wilson is a world class DB that can actually reasonably play hockey.  But Filly has better talent IMHO after the top 4 F's and Couturier is quite underrated & underpaid.  (And hate that Filly seems to be at the top, because really can't stand that team.)

And something about signing Sheary that just doesn't sit right.

Would put Washington in 2nd w/ the B's at 3 going on paper.  But one of those 2 will likely disappoint severely & can see both of them being less than they appear to be.  Pens are in that same boat IMHO.

The Aisles will find a way to get in & it comes down to whether the Sabres can outperform 1 of those topish middle 3 or 2 of them at the end of the day.  

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25 minutes ago, Taro T said:

Trust Filly's GT way more than the Caps.  Hart is a huge piece for them.  Also, not a huge fan of the Caps D after Carlson nor the bottom lines.  Ovie, Kuznetzov, & Backstrom are seriously solid & Wilson is a world class DB that can actually reasonably play hockey.  But Filly has better talent IMHO after the top 4 F's and Couturier is quite underrated & underpaid.  (And hate that Filly seems to be at the top, because really can't stand that team.)

And something about signing Sheary that just doesn't sit right.

Would put Washington in 2nd w/ the B's at 3 going on paper.  But one of those 2 will likely disappoint severely & can see both of them being less than they appear to be.  Pens are in that same boat IMHO.

The Aisles will find a way to get in & it comes down to whether the Sabres can outperform 1 of those topish middle 3 or 2 of them at the end of the day.  

I would be more worried about Washington’s gt if they planned on starting Holtby, though they do need to solve their backup question.  I think they have plenty of F depth with Ove, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Oshie, Vrana, Wilson, Eller, and Haeglin.

Pens I think improved this offseason, but need their top guys to stay healthy.

Philly has a deep roster, but i don’t think they have the top end players that some other teams in the division do.

Bs have a lot of holes, need to get healthy and need to see what their D works without Krug.

Rangers could surprise.  That have the top end guys, and a lot of talented young guys who may or may not be ready for the next step.

I’m not positive that Islanders get in.  They could but it’s no given.

This division is kind of interesting in that there are a lot of young goalies with good teams who are depending on them.  Washington, Pittsburgh, Rangers, Islanders, and Flyers all have goalies 25 or under with no more than one season as a starter.  Tough to predict what some teams are going to get in net.

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11 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

So... Chara... that's something. 

Just makes it a little more likely that Boston falters and Buffalo can surpass them.  Everything seems to be coming undone all at once for Boston.

Edited by Curt
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