When the Buffalo Sabres tanked their season in 2014-2015, it was all in an effort to get a once in a generational talent, Connor McDavid. 

The Sabres ended up with Jack Eichel.

At the time, Sabres’ general manager Tim Murray was livid that the Sabres did not win the draft lottery after tanking their entire season, having a historically bad and last-place season, and having the best odds at getting the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NFL Entry Draft. Murray had traded away essentially everything to make sure the team would have the best odds. It alienated the league and fans as it was so obvious what he was doing. Even the sports station in town supported the tank all the way. It worked. The team lost, A LOT. They finished last. Then they lost again in the NFL Draft Lottery. Edmonton would be awarded the 1st overall pick and took the coveted McDavid with that pick.

It wasn’t all bad for Buffalo, though. They were guaranteed the 2nd overall pick which was Jack Eichel. Many believed Eichel to also be a generational talent and someone you could build your hockey team around. It was true, as Eichel was immediately put on the Sabres roster and flourished. He was far and away their best player and it looked like better days were on the way for Buffalo. Maybe, just maybe, the tank was worth it all. 

The losing didn’t stop though. 6 years later, the Sabres failed to put together any semblance of a winning season. Eichel suffered a neck injury and wanted a specific surgery to correct it but the Sabres refused to allow him to have the procedure. The surgery had never been done to an NHL player before. The Sabres and Eichel argued as Jack stayed off the ice with the injury. Then, finally, on November 4, 2021, the Sabres traded the man they ultimately tanked to get to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. 

Jack Eichel is now a Stanley Cup champion. 

The Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 4 games to 1 in the series, winning their first-ever Stanley Cup in just their 6th year in the league.  Eichel didn’t score a goal in the Cup finals but had 8 assists in 5 games and showed incredible toughness after coming back from this hit.  

Meanwhile in Buffalo, the Sabres missed the playoffs for a league-record 12th straight season. In 53 years of existence, the Sabres have appeared in the Stanley Cup twice, losing both times. 

Now, to be fair to the Sabres, things are looking very promising for them. They barely missed the playoffs and have a very exciting young core that will almost definitely get to the playoffs next year and be a contender. The pieces they received for Eichel have all been excellent, especially forward Alex Tuch who has scored more points than Eichel in his time in Buffalo. It is likely that the playoff drought ends next season. 

That’s a prediction and a hope, though. In the meantime, Las Vegas has won the trade. They wanted to go to and win a Stanley Cup when they traded for Eichel. They needed a game-changing player. It worked, and it happened. 

Boy, did the Sabres screw up. 

We’re seeing that Jack Eichel is, in fact, tough. A leader. A game changer who comes up big in the biggest moments. It’s something Buffalo hoped he would do here. Why didn’t it happen though? Because the Sabres were absolutely inept during his time here. 

GM Tim Murray was fired when the team had 2 terrible seasons despite him making big trades, perceived roster upgrades, and drafting Jack Eichel. Next up was Jason Botterill, who failed as well. 

Both GMs hired terrible coaches. Phil Housely was hired by Jason Botterill, which was originally praised as a smart move but did not work out. He then hired, with influence from Sabres’ Owner Terry Pegula, Ralph Krueger. Krueger had a little bit of NHL head coaching experience but had been running a soccer club in Europe. He seemed like an excellent motivator who could get the Sabres’ talented roster to perform. 

It turned out to be the worst head coaching hire in Buffalo sports history, maybe even beyond that. Kreugger was completely out of his element, benching skilled players for questionable ones and wasting the final years of Jack Eichel’s time in Buffalo. The team finished at the bottom of the league both years Kruegger was head coach, and never came close to a playoff birth. These were teams not only with Eichel, but also names like Taylor Hall, Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour, Linus Ulmark, and so many more. 

From 2014 to Eichel’s exit in 2021, the Sabres literally did everything wrong, and it’s the lowest point for the franchise in their history. 

But it’s all going to be OK, Sabres Fans. 

As pointed out earlier, since the Jack Eichel trade the Sabres have gained perspective and direction. Their current general manager, Kevyn Adams, has made smart moves. He ahs drafted well. Things are coming together. Las Vegas may have won the trade today, but that’s the beauty of sports: you don’t actually know the full outcome until it ALL plays out. So Sabres fans, while you may feel envious, bitter, or down today after seeing Jack raise the cup and likely getting it from Vegas fans, know that this isn’t over yet. The trade is still yet to be fully determined. If Buffalo goes on to win a cup with the pieces they got for Eichel, then it’s a draw. That’s the ideal situation and everyone wins. 

Of course, Buffalo fans, we could also not win a cup with those pieces and ultimately lose. Let’s hope it comes together fast. In the meantime, we’ve all given Jack a hard time for a while. Time for us all to eat our words and say congrats, Jack. You earned it. 

The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, need a goalie. They have a highly decorated prospect in Devon Levi, but he will need time to grow. Here are 10 options the Sabres could consider.

10 Best Goalie Options for the Buffalo Sabres

With the Buffalo Sabres playoff hopes dimming and fans once again focusing on goaltending, let's look at the 10 best options they have.

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