The 2016-17 season is upon us, offering a clean sheet of ice, full of opportunity and potential. But, before we close the book on the 2015-16 season, one filled with progress as evidenced by a 27-point improvement by the team in the standings, we take a moment to acknowledge some achievements.
Here are some team highlights from last season:
- The team’s points percentage improvement of .165 from the 2014-15 season is the second-best in franchise history.
- The Sabres’ shot differential improvement of 10.3 shots per game was the biggest single-season improvement by any NHL team since the NHL began tracking shots in 1987-88.
- The Sabres went 7-4-4 (.600) in March, making it the team’s best month since April 2013 (8-4-0), and then topped that with a 3-1-0 (.750) record in April.
- A franchise-record nine players made their Sabres debuts in the team’s season opener on Oct. 8, 2015 vs. Ottawa. The team had a total of 18 players appear in their first games for the team in 2015-16, including all four goaltenders.
- The Sabres had four 20-goal scorers last season, each aged 25 or younger: Jack Eichel (24), Sam Reinhart, (23), Ryan O’Reilly (21) and Evander Kane (20). It’s the first time the Sabres have had four players in their age 25 seasons or younger score 20 goals since 1987-88.
Some notable individual player highlights:
- With 24 goals, Jack Eichel became the first Sabres rookie to lead the team in goals since Ray Sheppard (1987-88).
- Jack Eichel (24) and Sam Reinhart (23) combined for 47 goals. It was the second-highest total by a pair of rookies on the same team since the 2005-06 season. The only rookie duo with more goals was Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal (62 goals in 2006-07). Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in (45 goals in 2007-08) ranked third.
- Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart became the third pair of Sabres rookies ever to record 20 goals in the same season, joining Danny Gare (31) and Peter McNab (22) in 1974-75 and Gilbert Perreault (38) and Steve Atkinson (20) in 1970-71.
- Jack Eichel became the ninth Sabres rookie to record 50 points in a season in franchise history and the youngest to do so since Phil Housley (1982-83), tying Derek Plante (1993-94) for seventh-most points (56) by a Sabres rookie.
- Jack Eichel’s average ice time of 19:07 was the ninth-highest ever recorded by a rookie forward and the highest ever by Sabres rookie forward, topping the next highest (Cody Hodgson- 20 GP, 17:16) by nearly two minutes.
- Jack Eichel ranked second among all Sabres and led all NHL rookies with 238 shots. Danny Gare (274 in 1974-75) and Rick Martin (266 in 1971-72) were the only two Sabres rookies ever to record more shots than Eichel’s rookie total. Since the league began denoting rookies in 1987-88, only 11 NHL rookies have recorded more shots on goal in a season than Eichel’s 238.
- With his goal on Oct. 8 vs. Ottawa, Jack Eichel became the third-youngest player in Sabres history to score in his debut.
- With his goal on March 7 at Toronto, Jack Eichel (19 years, 131 days) became the youngest 20-goal scorer in Sabres history, besting Pierre Turgeon (19 years, 140 days on Jan. 15, 1989) by nine days.
- With his goal on March 26 vs. Winnipeg, Hudson Fasching became the first Sabre to score on his first shot in his NHL debut since Zemgus Girgensons (10/2/13 at DET).
- Brian Gionta became the 51st American born player to appear in 900 career games.
- Brian Gionta tallied his 49th career game-winner vs. NYI (4/9), tying Phil Housley for 14th-most career game-winning goals by an American player.
- With an average ice time of 23:24 per game in 85 games played since joining the Sabres, Zach Bogosian owns the third-highest average ice time ever recorded by a Sabres player, trailing only Alexei Zhitnik (531 GP, 25:32) and Christian Ehrhoff (192 GP, 23:55).
- Ryan O’Reilly (21:44) led all NHL forwards in average ice time per game and Evander Kane (21:02) ranked second. The pair currently own the two highest average career ice times by Sabres forwards. Michael Peca (20:18) is the only other forward with an average over 20 minutes.
- Evander Kane led all Sabres and ranked 10th in the NHL with 271 shots despite missing 17 games to injury.
- Five of Johan Larsson’s 10 goals last season were game-winners.
- With a team-high 60 points, Ryan O’Reilly became the 13th Sabres player to record at least 60 points in his first season with the team and the first since Pat LaFontaine (1991-92).
- Sam Reinhart recorded his first career hat trick on Jan. 10 at Winnipeg, becoming the first Sabres rookie to record a hat trick since Jason Pominville did so vs. Los Angeles (1/14/06).
- Rasmus Ristolainen ranked 10th in the NHL with an average ice time of 25:16 per game. Only Alexei Zhitnik (four times) has averaged more minutes per game in a full season with the Sabres.