We have finally reached the week where players arrive for training camp in Buffalo. Hard to believe the time has come but the excitement is quickly growing throughout the greater Buffalo area, judging by fans’ responses to the recently completed tournament that feature the Sabres top prospects.
Despite the season beginning in less than a month, we are able to take a look at the upcoming NHL season.
How you ask?
Our own Mike Straw doubles as a Senior Editor at SportsGamersOnline, which has given him access to run through NHL 19. For those wondering, NHL 19 is available September 14 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Mike took the time to simulate a full 2018-19 NHL season to determine how the season might play out for the Buffalo Sabres.
If NHL 19 has anything to say, Sabres fans will be very pleased and somewhat shocked with the upcoming season.
With that being said, it is time to get weird.
Right off the top, the simulation has the Buffalo Sabres finishing third in the Atlantic Division with 93 points. A record of 43-32-7 with 38 regulation or overtime wins gives the Sabres their first projected playoff appearance since the 2010-11 season.
If that did not shake you to your core, NHL 19 has another surprise in store for you.
A Buffalo Sabres roster player will take home the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Despite the presence of Rasmus Dahlin, the simulation has another Sabres rookie taking home the prize.
With a projected season of 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 78 games, Casey Mittlestadt takes home the league’s highest honor for a rookie player.
As for Dahlin? He is projected to net 17 points (10 goals, 7 assists) in 80 games. Silence the bust alarms - he is projected to be the second-highest scoring defenseman on the team. Buffalo’s defense still has a ways to go with getting their scoring touch back.
Offensively, Jack Eichel is again expected to lead the way. NHL 19 has Eichel tallying 70 points (26 goals, 44 assists) in 80 games. No surprise here but Eichel takes another offensive step forward in the video game world, which echoes expectations in the real world.
Sam Reinhart regressed a little in the simulation from last season’s torrid second-half pace, but still put up 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists) in 72 games.
As for new arrivals, Buffalo has enough of those this offseason to make your head spin for a minute or two.
Jeff Skinner is projected to continue to show off his goal scoring prowess, with 31 goals and 64 points in 82 games. If next season plays out this way, Skinner would log his fourth 30-goal season of his career.
Conor Sheary turned things around after a down season in Pittsburgh, ending up with 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 82 games.
Tage Thompson, acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, logged a career-high 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) in a career-high 80 games. Another positive step forward for a talented prospect.
Defensively, new acquisition Matt Hunwick is projected to tally one assist in 82 games.
A little excitement between the pipes, as offseason acquisition Carter Hutton is projected to lead the way with a career-best 33 wins. For aesthetic purposes, Hutton finished the simulation with a 33-24-2 record in 63 games played. Linus Ullmark ended with a 9-8-3 record in 20 games played.
Video games can be a gateway into the unknown, which most certainly is the case here for the Buffalo Sabres 2018-19 season. No one knows what to expect but if the team ends up being as good as NHL 19 has predicted, many fans are in for a whale of a season.