Heading in the right direction

Reinhart, Eichel

It’s that time of year again for Sabres fans. Time to put away all expectations of a run at the playoffs and start looking at the next moves the organization might make to allow the team to finally become a Stanley Cup contender.

Before you know it, the trade deadline will be upon us, as well as the NHL draft and much like the past two seasons, the Sabres are in a very precarious position in the league standings.

With less than two months left in the season, the Sabres once again find themselves within a few points of last place, and while most fans are disappointed with the outcome so far, there definitely is a light at the end of the tunnel.

With solid acquisitions like Evander Kane (Winnipeg) and Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado), the team is using its’ recent draft picks to set a young, solid foundation for years to come. Jack Eichel has continued to impress fans around the league. Not far behind is rookie and last year’s second overall pick, Sam Reinhart. At their current pace, both rookies could hit the 25 goal mark this season.

On the blue line, the Sabres have three solid defensemen that are developing into top notch NHL players, Mark Pysyk (23rd overall in 2010), Jake McCabe (44th overall in 2012), and Rasmus Ristolainen (8th overall in 2013).

The above mentioned players are reason alone to be very optimistic about the team’s future, and with Buffalo finishing near the bottom of the standings once again, this year’s draft just might bring one of the final pieces of the playoff puzzle.

According to Sports Business Daily, the Sabres television market could lead the NHL with the highest rating:

Through early February, nearly two-thirds of the way through the season, Sabres games on MSG are averaging a 6.81 rating, up 55 percent from last year. That comes despite Buffalo having an on-ice record that’s one of the worst in the Eastern Conference.”

The Sabres, and for that matter no other NHL team, has had the draft luck that the Edmonton Oilers have had recently (the number one pick four out of the past six seasons), but perhaps the hockey gods will be in Buffalo this year and finally push the number one overall pick our way.

All eyes are on forward Auston Matthews, who is projected to be the number one overall pick at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft this summer, which will be held in Buffalo. What perfect timing it would be for the Sabres to win the lottery and get that No. 1 pick.

Matthews is currently playing for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League and is said to have size, speed and a scoring touch. Many experts are already comparing him to Chicago Blackhawks superstar, Jonathan Toews.

If the Sabres have to move down the draft board there is still plenty of help out there. Either way, Buffalo will likely have a high draft pick, and perhaps the saying “wait till next year” will actually have some merit. Then, instead of worrying about who we might draft, we can get excited about our run in next year’s postseason.

Richard Gutowski
Richard Gutowski
Rich Gutowski lives in Corfu, NY and has been following the Sabres for over thirty years. Favorite Sabres by decade: 1970s-Gilbert Perreault 1980s- Dave Andreychuk 1990s-Brad May 2000s-Thomas Vanek 2010s- high hopes for Marcus Foligno
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