There truly is something cathartic about flying 40,000 feet above the Earth. The flight gives you time to sit back and think about whichever topic comes to mind – life, relationships, work or the Buffalo Sabres.
One thing there is definitely not like the other, and that is OK.
Training camp is in full swing, preseason games are underway and October is less than two weeks away.
Before we know it, we will be staring the All-Star Break directly in the face.
It feels like we all read or write this same piece every offseason. There is hope – there is faith – there is optimism.
Hard to continue to beat that drum after watching every individual performance from the Buffalo Sabres over the last handful of seasons.
Players come-and-go. Coaching staffs come-and go.
It is almost like a rinse cycle in your washing machine – you press the button and you know what you are getting from that exchange.
Despite just trashing the idea of optimism, there really is more optimism heading into this hockey season.
Last year, it was all about the drafting and debut of Rasmus Dahlin.
This year, it is all about one more year of all the star-studded talent that Buffalo has been able to amass.
Granted, the star-studdedness is dampened by a lack of depth that ultimately weighs those players down.
This offseason, Jason Botterill did what he needed to do. Botterill re-signed Jeff Skinner, hired a strong communicator in Ralph Krueger and managed to pull off a few sly moves that might just help push Buffalo closer to a potential playoff berth.
Being able to watch another year of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart – we are truly lucky as hockey fans. It seems as if this gets taken advantage of but these three players are most certainly in the upper echelon of NHL talent.
As for the aforementioned Rasmus Dahlin – we know how talented he is, which was only confirmed by his on-ice development last season.
If Dahlin continues to take a step forward in his second year, there is most certainly room for excitement on that front.
As for the negatives – and yes, there are quite a few.
Injuries are the first bad guy in the room.
Buffalo has been without defenseman Zach Bogosian all offseason, due to hip surgery. It seems unlikely Bogosian will be available for the immediate future.
More recently, it was announced that defenseman Brandon Montour suffered a hand injury and will miss the rest of training camp. As pointed out by our own Chad DeDominicis, Ralph Krueger seemed to indicate that Montour will miss time into the regular season.
Depth has been a point of emphasis this offseason and Botterill’s shrewd acquisition of defenseman Henri Jokiharju from the Chicago Blackhawks will certainly put that line of thinking to the test.
The other big thing to look out for early on is a continued lack of consistency – both offensively and defensively.
It is no secret that Buffalo needs depth scoring badly.
Botterill went out and acquired forward Jimmy Vesey in an attempt to help resolve this seemingly endless issue.
Early in camp, we saw Ralph Krueger willing to split up Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner. While this move was strictly to get a better look, one has to wonder if Eichel, Reinhart and Skinner on their own lines might spark more depth scoring.
There continues to be reason for that continued optimism that never seems to run away from Buffalo sports fans.
Only time will tell if Buffalo can keep things together through the new year, in a quest to break their playoff-less drought.