Or so I hope!
Just thought I'd throw in my rest of the year predictions and to keep us all a bit active in Fanpost since it's been a bit slow lately. While not the old tank days, I thought we'd have more responses to the various posts here. (BTW, I'm soon expecting some deep and meaningful posts from McGee who seems to have taken a vacation to places unknown).
With that, here are my thoughts on the rest of the season. Currently we are 14th in the Conference, ahead of only Detroit and New Jersey (by way of a game in hand). With 49 points, we could easily be 16th out of 16th. We've played much better over the last few weeks, but I have to confess I really do not know how to rate this team's overall performance other than we suffered through a ton of injuries early on, struggled still, and now seem to be playing much better. My other thoughts? We're a slow team with a bad defense and not very physical. With that, here goes:
We open the post All Star headache with a trip to Montreal but then bleed into February with a ton of home matches. We'll be home nine times and go visiting just five times, giving me a feeling that February should be a good month for the boys in Blue. That being said, should we struggle in February to have a winning record, we'll be in the bottom three in the conference the rest of the year. We have a lengthy time off in February (five days without a game). We have a trip to the West Coast in March, followed immediately by back to back games in Detroit and home to Pittsburgh. That is a rough March, IMO. And we bleed into April with three home games and then the final two are on the road. (Is it me or does it seem that we always play our last game of the season on the road?)
Because I just can't gauge this team's performance on a daily basis, I'm not going to go out on a limb here and predict a monster second half and say we'll end up 15-15-4 the rest of the way. (Isn't that a bold prediction!!!). Combined with our current point total, that gives us 83 points for the season and puts us out of the playoffs by six games or so.
Because of our second half improvement (slightly) and the pending Expansion Draft, I don't believe GMTM does much wheeling and dealing here. I think he realizes by the trade deadline (Feb 28th) that we are not going to be making a playoff run and does some minor things. He dumps salary in the following manner: Trading Josh Gorges ($3,9 mil) to Edmonton for a third round 2017 pick and promotes Brendan Guhle to the roster on March 1st. Trades Matt Moulson to Ottawa or Anaheim and retains $2 mil in salary for a 2nd round pick in 2018 (This saves $3 mil a year). Ottawa and Anaheim only make sense to me because they do need additional scoring for a playoff push.
Trades are going to be hard to come by and since we don't have that much with which to trade, I think GMTM looks to dump salary and retain picks for more assets in upcoming drafts. Again, I'm basing this strictly on our need for cap relief and in that we are not in that bad of shape player-wise. Without a "big bang", I don't see many players heading our way this season. I'm hoping to not go out and pay top-tier FA this summer but perhaps looking to fill in holes defensively. Defensemen will be too expensive to obtain via trades this year.
Our string of missing out of the #1 overall pick continues as we end up with the sixth overall pick in the draft and take Owen Tippet (RW, 6'2 202 lbs). I'll let McGee give you the full scoop on whether this is a good selection or not.
This draft becomes GMTM most important draft in that he has to begin filling in the pipeline with players who aren't consensus #1 picks and are going to give the Sabres meaningful minutes going forward. While a #6 player should contribute, I'm wondering what Murray does with the stockpile of picks that he has at his disposal for this year. I think it crucial that he hits on three/four players in this year's draft.
Well, what do you think? Have I missed anything? (Surely, I have). Just wanted to get the conversation rolling for the remainder of the year and see where you think we land with the schedule and overall performance of the team. While nothing I've written is earth-shattering, I honestly don't know how to judge this team any more. Just when they look putrid, they start to skate and grind and look decent. And once I think they've found their stride, they look bad for three or four games. Perhaps that is what you get with a young team.
Thoughts? love to hear from the DBTB crowd.