There is really nowhere to go but up for the Sabres. New, exciting additions at forward will make this team a lot more fun to watch than the past two seasons and might be enough to help Buffalo sniff the postseason for the first time in five years. But, realistically, this team is probably still a season or two away from that type of talk. The Sabres still have to prove themselves on the blue line and Robin Lehner needs to show he can be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL before they start cancelling their annual spring golf outings. Youngsters like Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart will also need time to adjust to the NHL. Buffalo would need everything to go right this season to be a playoff team, but it will still show significant year-to-year progress and a 20-plus point improvement is not unreasonable.
Sabres prediction: Around 80 points and 10th-12th place in the Eastern Conference
Eichel prediction: 20-35-55
This season has firewagon hockey written all over it. With an influx of offensive talent, a defense that has a bunch of question marks, and a goaltending situation that has even more, the Sabres could be playing a bunch of 6-4 hockey games every night. While those types of games are going to be infinitely better than the type of hockey that we've had to sit through for the past, it will also lead to falters during the season and some long losing streaks. The Sabres really can't be worse than they were last year with the roster they have currently constructed. They also aren't going to be much of a playoff contender either and that's alright.
Sabres prediction: 82 points and 12th in the Eastern Conference
Eichel prediction: 15-25-40
The Buffalo Sabres are going to be a much better team than last season, and not a minute too soon. They will have some offensive firepower (finally!) but unfortunately the defense and goaltending will continue to be weak spots. Make no mistake though, this will be a fun team to watch. They'll probably get blown out and shut down, sometimes in the same game, but there's plenty of young stars on the team to keep us entertained nevertheless.
Sabres prediction: 77 points (32-37-13); 13th in the Eastern Conference
Eichel prediction: 16-28-44
Terry Van Delinder
I can't think of any recent October where Sabres fans have had this much to be hopeful for. The front 6 are looking pretty solid with fresh young talent including the possible savior of this franchise, Jack Eichel. The question remains if the softer defense and unproven goaltending can keep the goals against low enough to win games. I think we're in for some exciting hockey this year and when the losses come we won't be shutout after a horrid 12 shot game like the 14-15 campaign had plenty of. While the excitement will make the season bearable come March/April we'll be fighting for a playoff spot and probably falling just short. The biggest win will be continuing to develop the young talent which will hopefully make that playoff run a bit easier the following season.
Sabres prediction: 88 points, 10th in the Eastern Conference
Eichel prediction: 21-38-59
1975, 1999, 2005, and now 2015 - once every decade or two, Buffalo gets a "best time to be a Sabres fan" season, and here we are knocking on that door once again. While the Sabres still won't be serious Cup Contenders this year (come back in twelve months, perhaps?) this season will undoubtedly be one of the most enjoyable in a long time simply because of what came before, and what we all hope will come in the very near future. I don't see fans getting too hung up on wins and losses this year, but getting more excited about Jack Eichel highlights, Evander Kane hits and snipes, Rasmus Ristolainen's blue line bombs, and the simple joy of watching a young and talented NHL roster try to find their sea legs together. Then next year we can all start whining about wins and losses again.
Sabres prediction: 84 points, 11th in the Eastern Conference
Eichel prediction: 23-39-62
Let us know what you think, and give us your Sabres season predictions in the comments.