New Sabre Marcus Johansson told media how hungry Buffalo appears to be in training camp. Well, now is the time for the team to show that as the regular season is about to start. We saw an impressive season from Rasmus Dahlin in his rookie year, but some other players proved to be a disappointment. Our staff writers took a few moments to discuss who they believe will be much better for Buffalo this season.
LINUS ULLMARK/CARTER HUTTON – By the end of the year, I predict that with a stronger team defense mentality and improvements in personnel on the backend our goalies will drastically out-perform last year’s numbers in both GAA and save percentage. -Brian
Linus Ullmark COMPLETELY ROBS Michael Frolik ??? pic.twitter.com/71T8m0F6BV
— Bar South N Celly™ (@BarSouthNCelly) January 17, 2019
CASEY MITTELSTADT – After a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign for the young pivot, Mittelstadt looks to improve on his modest 25 points in 77 games. At least early on, it looks like the Sabres are intending to shelter him a bit and control his usage more proficiently by starting him on the third line behind Jack Eichel and Marcus Johansson. This should lead to better opportunities for scoring while allowing him a chance to better improve his defensive acumen. – Craig S.
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) July 24, 2019
RASMUS DAHLIN – He had a superb freshman year, but most fans don’t understand how good he really was. The Sabres last year with Dahlin on the ice were a playoff team and without him, very bad. Dahlin’s advanced stats mirrored Erik Karlsson’s first season in the NHL with actually more points. Karlsson improved points-wise by 73% in his second and third seasons. If Dahlin is even close to that, he’d be over 60 points for the season. His improvement this year will result in a far larger national discussion on how good he is and the impact it makes for the Sabres. – Craig M.
Rasmus Dahlin's behind-the-back around Erik Karlsson to set up the game-winning goal is just beautiful. Especially on repeat. pic.twitter.com/pG2Hi0Wu2X
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 28, 2018
CONOR SHEARY – With only 14 goals and 20 assists last year, Sheary should eclipse the 50-point plateau this season. His analytics and underlying stats from last season point to some poor puck-luck. With more playing time in a top-six role and/or the power play, he should be in the ballpark for 20-25 goals. As of right now, he’s projected on a line with Vesey and Mittelstadt, but if the opportunity strikes for top-line minutes with Eichel, Sheary will certainly be capable of dishing out 30-35 assists. Staying healthy will be key as well. – Matt S.
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) March 2, 2019
JAKE MCCABE – After being named assistant captain by new head coach Ralph Krueger, the 7-year veteran will look to hold down a top-4 spot on the back end. While only playing in 59 games last season, McCabe was held to just 4 goals and 14 points. The 2012, 2nd round pick has never played a full season. That can be contributed to his physical playing style. If he can stay healthy this season, it can be expected that McCabe improves on his career-high 20 points that he recorded in 2016-17. With the “A” on his chest, we could very well see McCabe take a big step forward in his overall play this season. – John K.
Throwback to when Jake McCabe ended Patrik Laine's life pic.twitter.com/8oVoBWESr2
— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) August 13, 2019
MARCO SCANDELLA – After a season where he battled injuries and played in 63 games, as well as an average ice time of 17:37, his lowest in six years, Scandella is looking for a fresh start under Ralph Krueger, who was hired this past May. After entering the Sabres organization two years ago with a spot on the top pairing, additions made to the blueline has pushed Scandella down to a likely role on the third pair this year, where he can be better positioned for success. With Zach Bogosian on IR and the sixth spot on defense likely to change as the year progresses, it seems like he will be paired with Henri Jokiharju to start the year, and will provide leadership on defense as the most experienced blueliner on the Sabres. – Robert
— NHL (@NHL) September 28, 2019
There you have it, which one do you agree with the most? Or do you have a different player in mind? Let us know!