It’s time to put the year of 2018 behind us and look ahead at 2019 - but before we move on, let’s reflect back on 2018 and what it brought for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
It was a year full of ups and downs for the Sabres. They certainly struggled on the ice at times but had some positive things happen off the ice. Overall, they finished the year on perhaps not the best note - and got knocked down to a wildcard spot to open 2019 - but here are some of the best moments of 2018.
Winning the NHL Draft Lottery
A moment that was a long time coming, the moment the Buffalo Sabres won the NHL draft lottery was a huge relief for many fans. The team had struggled for so many years and had ‘lost’ the lottery previously, so to finally win it and secure a first-overall draft pick was a little bit of vindication for the Sabres community.
It’s the moment that essentially brought Rasmus Dahlin to Buffalo, a moment that will likely have a long-term impact on the city and its hockey team - and a moment many won’t soon forget.
Rasmus Dahlin Joins the Sabres
The date was June 22, 2018. As Sabres brass stepped up to the podium in Dallas, everyone knew what was coming, but it was still a joyous moment when it became official that Rasmus Dahlin was a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
RASMUS DAHLIN IS A BUFFALO SABRE! pic.twitter.com/2j7qGQin38— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) June 22, 2018
The 18-year-old has been such a critical addition to the Sabres lineup, even in his rookie season, and the sense of hope and pride that he’s helped restore in the local fanbase has been insurmountable.
Skinner Comes to Buffalo
Fast forward now to August 2, 2018 when, in a shocker, the Sabres acquire highly-skilled forward Jeff Skinner - and they didn’t even have to give up any roster picks. Prospect Cliff Pu and three draft picks went the other way, and although it’s impossible to know now just how that will pan out for Carolina, it’s safe to say the trade has gone incredibly well for Buffalo so far.
OFFICIAL TRADE: We've acquired Jeff Skinner from Carolina for forward Cliff Pu, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. pic.twitter.com/cFZswscWLS— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) August 2, 2018
Skinner has been a huge part of the Sabres’ offense so far this season. With 40 games under his belt, Skinner is leading the Sabres with 26 goals (11 more than Eichel, the next scorer) and has 13 assists for 39 points. He’s averaging nearly a point-per-game and hitting all the right marks. He’s truly been a part of helping make Sabres hockey fun to watch again.
Eichel Doing Eichel Things
Jack Eichel was another great part of the Sabres in the 2018 calendar year. From spectacular goals to important assists, to getting named the team’s captain, he is undoubtedly a huge part of the team’s present and future.
Classic RJ— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 16, 2018
"Oh my - What a play! Coming soon to a theatre near you: Sick Mitts, starring Jack Eichel. Brother!" pic.twitter.com/8OTZa9gh5v
A Ten-Game Winning Streak
The Sabres also managed to accrue a 10-game winning streak in 2018. It was exciting and nerve-wracking, had fans of the edge of their seats every game and left us all wondering what else this team could accomplish.
Buffalo didn’t lose a game between November 5 and November 28. Many of their wins were gritty, hard-working, well-earned wins. Some they may not have even deserved, but they managed to steal away two points anyway. From regulation wins to overtimes to shootouts, they got it done, and it was a huge streak in propelling the team up in the standings.
What was your favorite moment of 2018? What will 2019 bring for the Buffalo Sabres?