What do these power rankings mean?
These are the players who will have the biggest overall impact for the Sabres this season, in a positive way of course. It’s what each player has, or will, accomplish for the 2019-2020 season. With the season about to get underway, here is where our players currently sit.
#1 – Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel is hungry to win, and if he has to put his team on his back in games to do that, then so be it. It is undeniable that Eichel is the driving force behind the Sabres offense and as the season approaches, he looks ready to take on that mantle full steam ahead. With more offensive tools in the line-up it will help Eichel exceed previous years offensive outputs. Also, the chemistry developed with Victor Olofsson may prove beneficial to both of them. Eichel is one of the best players in the entire league when it comes to driving play and zone entries, and he is still quite young with room to improve. A season eclipsing 90+ points is not out of the question.
#2 – Rasmus Dahlin
Dahlin can be a polarizing player at times where an outstanding play can on occasion be followed by a poor decision. This young defenseman will continue to mature and those mistakes will be few and far between as he continues to hone his game. A 50-point season with increased responsibility and ice-time is in line for this future all-star. His overall impact on the play was exceptional last season. If he can build upon that, the sky is the limit.
#3- Sam Reinhart
Sam “the silent one” Reinhart had a phenomenal pre-season. At times he looked like the best player on the ice. Reinhart will never be own to blow you away with his speed, however he does have a sizzle of offensive flare from time to time and is almost always making the right high percentage play. Reinhart bet on himself with his two year bridge deal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that bet pays off very nicely for him and the team in turn. With Reinhart being able to drive play and set to play on a line with Eichel he’s tied with Dahlin for number 2 on this list.
#4 – Jeff Skinner
The always feisty Jeff Skinner is a consistent scoring threat. This year it looks like he will be the driving force behind the second line, working with Johansson as his primary center. I don’t believe Skinner is going to hit the 40 goal mark again this year, unless he gets bumped back up to Eichel’s line, however I do envision a productive season where he is able to score 30+ goals and over 60 points.
#5 – Victor Olofsson
This player has the Sabres fans clamoring for him to see top-line minutes, and why wouldn’t that be the case? He performed remarkably in the prospect camp and pre-season as well as showing near-instant chemistry with Jack Eichel. If Olofsson is able to be a mainstay on the top line he could potentially be in the running for a Calder nomination as 25+ goals would be his floor if kept there.
#6 – Marcus Johansson
The recently signed free agent acquisition is already being looked to as a leader for this Sabres team with the recent announcement of getting an ‘A’ on his jersey. Johansson is a deceptively quick player who makes those around him better. With his play-making ability and Jeff Skinner riding shotgun on his line, we could potentially see a career year for MoJo.
#7 – Rasmus Ristolainen
Ristolainen has his faults, but one would be hard-pressed to say he doesn’t prepare like crazy for the upcoming season. The big defenseman is mobile, strong, and able to produce points. We may see a slight dip in production if he is permanently moved to the second powerplay grouping, however, he has all the tools to make this his best professional season yet. A new coach will help to reset the viewpoint on Ristolainen and hopefully will motivate him to win with this team, rather than continue to be in and out of trade rumors.
#8 – Jake McCabe
McCabe did not make the earlier list of player power rankings… he does now. The hard-hitting LHD is very sound defensively and is able to drive possession in an efficient manner. McCabe has also taken on a leadership role and will be wearing an ‘A’ for the upcoming season. His offensive output is likely to increase seeing top 4 minutes and likely pair with Ristolainen. He also had a very strong showing this pre-season, hopefully, that translates into the regular season.
#9 – Colin Miller
The former Golden Knight looks to be Dahlin’s primary defensive partner, or at least until Montour recovers from his hand injury. That can only bode well as Dahlin tends to make the players around him better and I believe their two styles of play with compliment one another. Miller is a great possession driver and able to transition the play better than most. He also has a wicked slapshot that I wouldn’t be surprised to see find the back of the net on several occasions this season.
#10 – Casey Mittelstadt
The young center still has a lot of growing to do. As we saw during the pre-season there were flashes of talent accompanied by periods of disinterest. It’s difficult to ascertain the type of player he will be throughout an entire 82 game season, however, the talent is obviously there. We all hope this is the year Mittelstadt can put things together, and playing on a line with Sheary and Vesey should help significantly in that regard. A 20-goal and 40-point season are not out of the question, with the potential to easily surpass that based on how his game develops.
There was quite a bit of fluctuation in the rankings between the start of the off-season and now, I imagine this list will continue to evolve as the season progresses.
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Cheers & Go Sabres!