With the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup earlier this week, the NHL offseason is now in full swing. Here’s a look at some of the important dates and milestones that lie ahead in the coming months for fans of both the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL at large.
First up: the potential for buyouts. June 15 marked the opening of the first buyout period, and we’ve already seen some action, as the Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday that they have bought out the contract of Dion Phaneuf.
In addition to buyouts, the possibility of trades has opened up, too. Earlier this week, we saw the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals swap players, as Matt Niskanen and Radko Gudas switched teams. On Saturday, another trade was completed, as the Pittsburgh Penguins sent Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun and a draft pick.
Coming up in the next few days: the Board of Governors meeting, and the NHL Awards, both in Las Vegas on June 19. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is up against Stanley Cup winning-goaltender Jordan Binnington, and Vancouver’s Elias Petersson, for the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie.
Old friend Ryan O’Reilly is up for the Selke against Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stone, as well as for the Lady Byng Trophy (against Sean Monahan and Aleksander Barkov). Robin Lehner is also up for both the Vezina and Masterton trophies.
The GMs will also be meeting the following day in Vancouver, just ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft. It’ll be an interesting few days, as the draft follows on June 21-22. Who will be the newest additions to the Buffalo Sabres’ prospect core? We’ll find out sooner rather than later, and then - though there are no confirmed dates yet - it’s safe to say that Sabres development camp will be coming in the next few weeks.
Free agency doesn’t begin officially until July 1, but teams can begin interviewing unrestricted free agents on June 23, and restricted free agents on June 26.
Finally, on June 25, the full NHL schedule for the 2019-2020 season is expected to be released. At some point prior to that, we’ll hopefully also learn the Sabres’ preseason schedule. Some teams have already begun releasing their preseason slates, including a few Eastern Conference squads, but none that are playing the Sabres.
Finally, on August 15, the Sabres either need to have signed three of their prospects, or lose them to free agency.
Then, before you know it, training camp will be around the corner - followed by preseason, and then regular season action. We already know two of the games on the Sabres’ slate for the 2019-2020 season, as they’ll face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm, Sweden on November 8 and 9.
What else will the offseason bring? Who knows. What players will leave the Sabres, either via buyout, trade or free agency? And what players will join the team? How will the front office continue to develop? What else do you hope to see happen this offseason for the Sabres?