How Do DBTB Readers Feel About the Sabres’ Upcoming Season?

<em>A Look at the Way Buffalo’s Offseason Moves Affect Fan Mood</em>

The Buffalo Sabres have made a number of decisions this offseason to shore up their roster and hopefully win enough games to end the NHL’s longest playoff drought. With the first preseason game less than two weeks away, it’s a good time to look at some of them and examine how they might influence fans and Die By the Blade’s readers.

1)    Tage Thompson’s New Contract

A few weeks ago, the Sabres signed a new deal with forward Tage Thompson that pays him $50 million over 7 years. After being traded from the St. Louis Blues as part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal, No. 72 really struggled his first few seasons as a Sabre. However, this past year Thompson came alive, getting 38 goals and 30 assists. To put it in perspective, his goals and assists numbers for his three previous Sabres seasons were 7 & 5,  0 & 0 and 8 & 6, respectively.

Thompson has gone from being a player that might have ended his career in the AHL to being one of Buffalo’s top scorers. He made many great plays in 2021-22, but one of the best was during a scoreless regulation game in Calgary on March 18. With it tied 0-0 in OT, Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom came way out of the net to stop the puck. Thompson quickly stripped the puck and shot the game winner into the open net before Markstrom could react:

2)    Goalie Signings: Anderson, Subban, Comrie and UPL

Goaltending has long been of Buffalo’s biggest weaknesses. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams tried to shore that up this summer, starting with a one-year contract for veteran netminder Craig Anderson. On July 12, it was Malcolm Subban’s turn to get a new deal. The next day, the Sabres signed Eric Comrie to a two-year agreement. Finally, at the very end of summer Buffalo resigned RFA Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

Most likely, Comrie and Anderson will split the majority of netminding duties for Buffalo with Subban and UPL being backups or playing in Rochester. Comrie hasn’t played many games but boasts good stats. Anderson is also effective when he’s been able to suit up. Subban probably won’t see much action. The Sabres seem willing to give Luukkonen two years to prove himself. It’ll be interesting to see who plays the most this year and how well they stop opponents’ pucks.

3)    Defensive Acquisitions: Lyubushkin to Replace Departed D-Veterans

On July 25, 2022, the Detroit Red Wings signed former Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk. Buffalo also lost UFA defensive vets Colin Miller and Will Butcher. With an overwhelmingly young defensive core, Buffalo needed a veteran D-man with playoff experience and settled on Ilya Lyubushkin. Lyubushkin will bring a mature defensive presence and mentor the younger players. Time will tell, of course.

That young group does have some depth, including Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson and top 2021 draft pick Owen Power. Power doesn’t look like he requires too much guidance, as he stepped onto the ice this past spring liked he’d been in the NHL for years. No. 25 has had some great moments in his short Sabres career. One of them was his first career point, an Alex Tuch assist on April 14 against the Blues:

4)    Better Trade for Once: Eichel to Vegas for Tuch and Krebs

Frustrated fans and sports pundits have long criticized the Sabres’ managers for making bad, one-sided deals. When Buffalo finally traded former captain Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights, for Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, not everyone was sure the Blue and Gold got the better end of the deal. However, Tuch and Krebs quickly established themselves as solid players.

In his trade analysis, WGRZ’s Paul Hamilton argued that the Sabres won, because Tuch, Krebs and now prospect Noah Ostlund were worth the move. Vegas fans blamed the former Buffalo captain for costing them Max Pacioeretty and Evgenii Dadonov. The Golden Knights, who were Stanley Cup contenders their first season, failed to make the playoffs in 2022. In Buffalo, there’s talk of Tuch being a possible future captain. If Tuch does end up wearing a C, he’ll handle the responsibility much more seriously than the last captain did.

5)    Who Will Be the Next Sabres Captain?

Besides Alex Tuch, two possible captain candidates are current alternates Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo. Either one would make a great on and off ice leader. Tage Thompson, a forward who’s shown a vastly improved scoring ability, has also exhibited maturity and leadership during tough losses this past season. Any one of them would make an excellent captain and fans look forward to seeing which one eventually gets the nod.

The Buffalo Sabres have made some major offseason moves, resigning some players, drafting and signing others and letting some go. It remains to be seen how these moves will influence winning and ultimately, fan morale. In the past few years, fans have soured on the team, staying away from KeyBank Center in droves. Will this continue, or won’t it? How do you feel about the team’s upcoming hockey year?

1)    I feel good about the 2022-23 Buffalo Sabres season.

A. Yes457
B. No28

2)    I feel good about the Buffalo Sabres’ offseason moves.

A. Yes413
B. No50

3)    I plan to buy Sabres season tickets.

A. Yes39
B. No396

4)    I plan to go to a least one Sabres game at KeyBank Center.

A. Yes271
B. No159

5)    I plan to watch or listen to every Sabres  game.

A. Yes324
B. No122