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ESPN Way-too-Early Power Ranking Poll


HILLsabre

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I find no issue with this ranking or the write-up, but the Sabres do have a fair amount of talent and new, proven coach, so they could surprise.

I was genuinely excited for last season and thought the team would take the next step, and was obviously disappointed.  For this upcoming season, I'm neither excited nor disappointed with what they've done in the offseason.  Most of their moves were logical and along the lines of what was expected, plus they may not be done.  I'm taking a wait and see approach.

Edited by msw2112
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4 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

"At some point, the Yzerplan must result in the Red Wings' return to the playoffs."

Lol, that's not how anything works. 

Isn't that what was said about the Pegulaplan about 10 years ago?  Eventually they should be back in there.  But who knows how "eventually" is defined?

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2 hours ago, HILLsabre said:

Well, it's way too early, but....Utah ahead of us? Really? The claim is Buffalo just hasn't done enough this off-season considering all the pressure to win now.  Hmmmmm. Think I've heard this somewhere!!!https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/40509506/nhl-power-rankings-2024-2025-best-teams-standings-free-agency-trades-draft

Last year's standings adjusted slightly for free agency. 

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So the very top group is pretty much the same as last year. Nashville adds obviously move them up. Same for New Jersey, but I'd seriously question Detroit being placed there. 

Utah is the wildcard to watch for me. Some good kids in the system, some big time new additions, a new environment. They could surprise. 

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1 hour ago, French Collection said:

Everybody loves Yzerman and wants him to succeed. He hasn’t been able to take the next step with the Wings, he should be feeling the heat soon.

I'm not convinced Detroit drafts well. Maybe, but if Buffalo supposedly only drafts small speedsters, then Detroit loves their 6'1" high floor lower ceiling middle 6 guys. 

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Our 4th line is better this year, and that might be about it. Mitts at 3C hasn't been replaced with McLeod, nor has Skinner been replaced with Zucker.

We're basically praying that our remaining top 5 stay completely healthy and go back to their 22-23 form (without Skinner's help), Benson takes a major step forward, and/or Kulich is able to be an effective 3rd line or better NHL player. That's too much to come together at once. 

We're worse this year.

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Aiming low on Sabres projections has been the proven, safe bet for a decade: the Sabres will have to give them reason to change their tune (and why wouldn’t they?).  There’s nothing about our offseason that stands out relative to the league, so there’s no perceived separation/gained ground from that (and tbh outside of a couple big splashes I’m not sure an offseason would even have that much sway). So it’ll have to be on ice. They have to surprise. Like someone mentioned, the most accurate predictions are usually just last year’s standings. Give or take. The first time we get projected for a solid playoff berth, we’ll have likely already accomplished the feat

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13 hours ago, French Collection said:

Everybody loves Yzerman and wants him to succeed. He hasn’t been able to take the next step with the Wings, he should be feeling the heat soon.

True, but I can't see them turning on him there. He's too much of a local legend type thing. You'd probably see him bumped upstairs to some sort of upper management role if they wanted to go new GM. Sort of like Philly has done with their "legends" over the years. Or the way Cam Neely gets to sit up top in Boston. 

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11 hours ago, JoeSchmoe said:

Our 4th line is better this year, and that might be about it. Mitts at 3C hasn't been replaced with McLeod, nor has Skinner been replaced with Zucker.

We're basically praying that our remaining top 5 stay completely healthy and go back to their 22-23 form (without Skinner's help), Benson takes a major step forward, and/or Kulich is able to be an effective 3rd line or better NHL player. That's too much to come together at once. 

We're worse this year.

I'm a little more hopeful.

Roster-wise, we've lost some skill up front, but we're bigger and faster, and we should be more physical and better defensively.

We've also changed the coach and our young players have got another year's experience, which often brings improvement.

Chemistry, balance and 'tools' are just as important to team success as pure skill. But I also don't know if we've had much of a drop-off even doing a straight comparison

On the left is last year's team ranked by ice time, on the right who I project taking that ice time (obviously contingent on health).

Forwards

  • Tuch 1462 -> Thompson
  • Cozens 1360 -> Tuch
  • Peterka 1342 -> Cozens
  • Thompson 1286 -> Quinn
  • Skinner 1183 -> Peterka
  • Greenway 1155 -> Benson
  • Mittelstadt 1132 -> McLeod
  • Benson 1030 -> Zucker
  • Krebs 1000 -> Greenway
  • Okposo 830 -> Malenstyn
  • Girgensons 746 -> Lafferty
  • Olofsson 590 -> Kulich
  • Jost 455 -> Krebs
  • Robinson 440 -> Aube-Kubel
  • * Quinn 422 -> Rousek/Rosen

Defence

  • Dahlin 2059 -> Dahlin
  • Power 1741 -> Power
  • Jokiharju 1404 -> Byram
  • Clifton 1307 -> Samuelsson
  • * Samuelsson 840 -> Jokiharu
  • Erik Johnson 690 -> Clifton
  • Ryan Johnson 568 -> Gilbert
  • Bryson 528 -> Bryson/Johnson

You can't ignore the fact that a healthy Quinn and Samuelsson (and to a lesser extent Thompson) improve the team. But you also have to account for the fact that the team is likely going to have to overcome similar injuries this year.

That said, plugging Byram and Samuelsson into Jokiharju and Clifton's ice time and pushing those guys down the roster should mean an upgrade.

At the top of the roster, I think the most realistic way of looking at the significant change is Quinn and McLeod for Mittelstadt and Skinner. The bottom got a huge makeover in terms of identity.

I don't know if it adds up to being better; I've been saying for weeks a lot of that is going to be tied to how many players rebound from last year's disappointments.

But I don't expect it to be worse.

 

Edited by dudacek
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As if you needed more evidence of Sabres irrelevance, check out this way-to-early file from the Athletic.

https://www.nytimes.com/athletic/5628252/2024/07/11/nhl-picks-2025-stanley-cup-playoffs-awards/

Predictions about just everything under the sun — team and individual, bad and good — and not a Sabre to be found.

The only place the franchise shows up at all is in the predicted eastern conference standings list: an utterly mediocre 12th.

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1 hour ago, dudacek said:

As if you needed more evidence of Sabres irrelevance, check out this way-to-early file from the Athletic.

https://www.nytimes.com/athletic/5628252/2024/07/11/nhl-picks-2025-stanley-cup-playoffs-awards/

Predictions about just everything under the sun — team and individual, bad and good — and not a Sabre to be found.

The only place the franchise shows up at all is in the predicted eastern conference standings list: an utterly mediocre 12th.

That’s OK, let the team be under the radar. The players don’t need any extra pressure, I’m sure they expect to take a step forward.

Lots of room on the bandwagon for all of the ‘experts’.

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