A few weeks ago, it was all Sabres fans could do to keep from giving up on the season - things looked hopeless and the team was sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Fast forward two weeks, and the Sabres are sitting just three points out of the playoffs with three relatively easy games coming up this week. However, they're still not out of the woods yet - they also sit exactly three points above a top three draft pick. So today we're asking: would you rather have the Sabres make the playoffs, or tank for a top five draft pick?
Let's see the argument for both sides. The obvious benefit to making the playoffs is, well, being in the playoffs. It earns you a chance to play for Lord Stanley's Cup, and as Los Angeles showed last year, it doesn't matter what seed you are if your play is impressive enough. The downside to making the playoffs is that the Sabres would likely be a 7 or 8 seed, and would be matched up in Round One with Pittsburgh, Montreal, or Boston, which would be a very tough matchup for Buffalo in a seven game series. If they could somehow get to the #6 seed, that would lead to a game versus Winnipeg or Washington, which would be much more doable. Still, the odds are high that they'll win their first round matchup, and astronomical for a Cup run.
The argument for tanking is the chance to draft one of the top prospects in this draft, Seth Jones, Nate MacKinnon, or Jonathan Drouin. One of those guys could be a franchise cornerstone for many years to come. Sounds great, right? Well, thanks to their recent winning ways, the Sabres would draft seventh if the season ended today, a far ways away from drafting one of those top prospects. They'll have to "leapfrog" four other teams to get into a high draft position, which is no guarantee, and in the process we'll have to watch a bunch more losing hockey.
I know what Sabres fans don't want - another finish somewhere between 9-13 in the East. But for the sake of a fun argument, let's assume that won't happen, and you have to choose one extreme or the other. So which is it, Sabres fans? Playoffs, or top draft pick?