The Buffalo Sabres Might Be The Worst Team In NHL History Next Season
The NHL offseason is well underway. The NHL Draft took place last weekend and the start of free agency began at noon, EST on Wednesday.
The Buffalo Sabres have been busy this offseason, but maybe not exactly what Sabres fans hoped for going into the month of July.
For starters, the Sabres traded away minutes-played leader, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers before the first round of the NHL Draft last Friday. The Sabres received a first-round pick in 2021, a second-round pick in 2023 and defenseman Robert Hagg.
Then, they traded away centre Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers last Saturday, in exchange for a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2022 and goaltender prospect Devon Levi.
On Wednesday, Buffalo both defenseman Bryan McCabe (Chicago) and starting goaltender Linus Ullmark (Boston) to free agency.
The Sabres did sign and trade for players on Wednesday, however.
They signed 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson, who has played for five teams in his career and played last season with the Washington Capitals. Buffalo also signed goaltender Aaron Dell, who is a 32-year-old goaltender who spent four seasons as a backup in San Jose, and spent last year with the New Jersey Devils.
As far as forwards go, the Sabres signed forwards Vinnie Hinostroza and West Seneca native Sean Malone. Malone is likely a Rochester Amerk for this upcoming season.
For defencemen, the Sabres signed Ethan Prow, Jimmy Schuldt and former Sabre, Mark Pysyk. They also re-signed Brandon Davidson and traded for New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher.
The biggest question mark is still captain Jack Eichel. Many probably expected him to be traded by now, but general manager Kevyn Adams clearly hasn't gotten the value the Sabres want. According to Darren Dreger of TSN, via John Vogl of The Buffalo News, Eichel and his camp is getting frustrated and wants this to be done.
Assuming Eichel gets traded, the Sabres current roster is jaw-droppingly lacking for experience and talent, to put it politely.
The Sabres top two lines would likely consist of Victor Olofsson, Jeff Skinner, Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Asplund, Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt. After that, you're looking at Anders Bjork, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Eakin, Kyle Okposo, Artuu Ruostalainen and Vinnie Hinostroza....yikes.
The defencemen don't look as bad as the forward core, but there are still huge question marks. Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju are clearly their top two defencemen. Then, you likely have Robert Hagg, Will Butcher, Mark Pysyk and Colin Miller.
The goaltenders are Craig Anderson, Aaron Dell, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Dustin Tokarski.
That is easily one of the worst rosters I have ever seen on an NHL team -- certainly over the past 20 years. Those expansion teams in the '90s were pretty terrible and regarded as the worst teams in NHL history (San Jose, Ottawa, Atlanta); but the Sabres current roster gives them a run for their money.
The lack of experience and production is astounding.
It's a hard pill to swallow for Sabres fans since last year was so terrible and they haven't made the playoffs in a decade, but it's clear this will be a complete rebuild.
It's an easy assessment to predict that Buffalo will finish last in 2021-2022 and have the best odds for the number one pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, which by all accounts will be Shane Wright, who is one of the best forward prospects in recent memory.