The transformation of the Buffalo Sabres over the past two years has been immense. Today’s team is leaps and bounds from that of two years ago, and I wanted to see just how much things have changed.
To provide a fair comparison, I pulled up the Sabres’ roster on January 26, 2021. Here’s what the roster looked like for practice that morning. Players in bold are still with the team today.
Taylor Hall - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Victor Olofsson - Eric Staal - Dylan Cozens
Tobias Rieder - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo
Jeff Skinner - Curtis Lazar - Riley Sheahan
Extras: Casey Mittelstadt, Tage Thompson
(Zemgus Girgensons must have been injured or sick. Henri Jokiharju was injured.)
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Matt Irwin - Brandon Montour
Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller
Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton, Jonas Johansson
.... what a roster, eh? I mean, Tage Thompson was a healthy scratch.
Ralph Krueger was still the team’s head coach, for goodness’ sake. The actual stats from that point in 2021 aren’t very meaningful, given that the team had only played six games, but looking at the lineup itself provides a significant indication of just how much has changed.
I don’t want to focus on the players that aren’t in Buffalo anymore. They’ve all gone elsewhere for one reason or another, through trade or free agency or what have you. More than anything, it’s about thinking about how the few players remaining from that roster have grown immensely over the years, and how new additions have helped the team flourish.
It’s evident the most in the swap from Krueger to Don Granato, and how much that change has helped players like Jeff Skinner flourish. It’s the emergence of Tage Thompson, from a four-liner to a healthy scratch to one of the top scorers in the entire league. It’s the growth of Rasmus Dahlin to a top-pairing offensive defender who plays over 25 minutes regularly.
Here are the players who are now on the Sabres’ roster who weren’t on that day two years ago, and where they were that season:
- Rasmus Asplund played 28 games with the Sabres that year, but also three with Rochester.
- Tyson Jost played 54 games with the Colorado Avalanche, for 17 points.
- Peyton Krebs captained the Winnipeg Ice, scoring 43 points in 24 games. He also made his NHL & AHL debuts with the Vegas Golden Knights and the Henderson Silver Knights.
- JJ Peterka played 30 games with EHC München (20 points) and 12 games with EC Salzburg (16 points).
- Jack Quinn had nine points (2-7) in 15 games with the Amerks.
- Alex Tuch skated in 55 games for Vegas scoring 33 points (18-15).
- Jacob Bryson appeared in five games for Rochester and had nine points (1-8) in 38 NHL games.
- Kale Clague was an alternate captain with the AHL’s Ontario Reign & also skated for the Kings.
- Ilya Lyubushkin appeared in 42 games with the Arizona Coyotes, as well as five games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the KHL.
- Owen Power was in his pre-draft season at the University of Michigan and had 16 points in 26 games.
- Mattias Samuelsson spent most of the season in Rochester and had 13 points in 23 games. He also skated in 12 gamester the Sabres.
- Craig Anderson was in his first, and only - very brief - season with the Washington Capitals. He appeared in four games.
- Eric Comrie played four games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and one game with the New Jersey Devils.
- Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was loaned to TPS for 13 games, but also appeared in 14 games for the Amerks and four games for the Sabres.