Can the Sabres Finally End Their Playoff Drought?

<em>Buffalo’s Moves Need to Be Enough to Make It in the NHL’s East</em>

Recently, Die By the Blade polled readers on Twitter, asking them which upcoming Sabres stories they’d like to see. One respondent, Zack Holiskey asked, “Where do they stand in the East after all the roster moves? Can the playoff drought finally end?”

The 2022 NHL Draft and free agent signing deadlines are in the books, so sports pundits can do what they enjoy most, analyzing them to death. Reaction to the Buffalo Sabres’ moves in the Draft and free agency have been mixed. Corey Pronman of the Athletic gave Buffalo an A-, his third highest grade behind Montreal and Seattle. DBTB readers were mostly pleased with the team’s decision to stick with their draft picks, and 63% of those who voted gave the Sabres an A.

However, not everyone in the sports world thought GM Kevyn Adam’s decision to stand pat with his picks and not make any major trades was the wisest decision. Harrison Brown of NovaCaps, scored Buffalo with a C. In his analysis of the Sabres’ moves, Brown wrote, “The Sabres signed a couple depth defensemen in addition to a back-up goaltender and did not lose anyone significant. In an 11-season postseason drought, more action was needed in Buffalo.”

To put things in perspective, Brown graded the Leafs not much better, at C- and the Florida Panthers at a D-. Boston and Tampa were also trending down, but still did better than Buffalo, according to his analysis. Detroit, Montreal and Ottawa scored really well, trending up.

Other sports bloggers also felt that the Senators and Red Wings are potential up-and-coming rivals. Zach Jezioro of SabreNoise pointed to Ottawa’s big move getting forward Alex DeBrincat from Chicago as something to watch.  Detroit is shoring up their roster, as other pundits such as Kristen Shilton noted. Tampa, Florida and Toronto will still be the top three teams in the Atlantic Division, in Jezioro’s estimation.

The Sabres aren’t ready to beat these three, but Buffalo could potentially fight the Boston Bruins or Ottawa Senators for a wild card playoff spot. The Sens are doing better, but they’re still in a rebuild mode. The Bruins are not the top franchise they were until recently. Bergeron is out for the next couple of years, Pastrnak is questionable long-term and Brad Marchand’s not getting any younger. The Sabres have youth and depth, which could make the difference in a possible Sabres-Bruins playoff competition.

If the Blue and Gold can keep playing the way they did the tail end of 2021-22, the Sabres have a shot at the playoffs. One thing the team lacks is an experienced captain to show a good example and motivate the young prospects. Eichel was obviously not leadership material. Kyle Okposo and Alex Tuch have been floated as potential Cs. Jeff Skinner is another contender. Any one of these guys would make a good captain, and hopefully the team will choose one of them for the upcoming season.

Goaltending is another weak spot. Buffalo resigned Craig Anderson, signed Eric Comrie and most likely will make a deal with RFA UPL. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, who wrote that the Leafs fell off the goalie carousel, gave the Sabres possible points for getting Comrie. Are these the right moves? Again, we won’t know until well into the season.

The Buffalo Sabres are poised to make the playoffs, if the team can play consistently for more than two months and if the team’s offseason drafts and signings work out.

What do you think?

Will the Buffalo Sabres Make the Playoffs in 2022-23?

A - Yes, definitely113
B- No way, no how201
C - Maybe, check back with me in April577