The Buffalo Sabres narrowly missed out on last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing the regular season one point below eventual runners up the Florida Panthers. They have the tools to make a playoff run in 2023/24.
The Sabres have a nice mix of young talent and experience. Plus, it's always nice to have six players who score over 55 points in a season.
The main weakness last season was in goal. Three players - Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Craig Anderson, and Eric Comrie - all averaged more than three goals against per game, and only Anderson had a save percentage above .900.
Luckily for the Sabres, they will have a full season with rookie goaltender Devon Levi, a 2-time Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and the 2022/23 Hockey East Player of the Year at Northeastern University, who posted encouraging numbers in the seven games he started at the end of last season.
With all their key players either in or entering their prime years, the Sabres should at least make the playoffs this season.
|What||2023/24 NHL Season|
|Where||US & Canada|
|When||October 10, 2023 - June 2024|
|How to watch||ABC, ESPN, TNT & NHL Center Ice|
|Odds||TOR Maple Leafs +800, COL Avalanche +850, EDM Oilers +900, NJ Devils +1000, CAR Hurricanes +1000|
The Buffalo Sabres finished fifth in the Atlantic Division with 91 points, missing the playoffs by one point.
This season should be a step forward for the Sabres and especially their young core of Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Owen Power, and Jack Quinn when he returns from his Achilles injury.
Assuming Devon Levi lives up to the hype and plays the way he did in his seven NHL games last season, the 21-year-old will provide some much-needed stability in goal.
The team's stars - Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner, and Alex Tuch - have proven they can produce at a high level, and Dahlin finished eighth in voting for the Norris Trophy which honors the top defenseman in a NHL season.
Thompson developed into a star last season as he posted 47 goals and 47 assists for 94 points.
Dahlin contributed a career-high 92 points, a big jump over his previous career-high of 68, and he posted a positive plus/minus on the season for the first time.
If Dahlin plays his way into Norris contention and Thompson does the same for the Hart Trophy for the league's MVP, Buffalo could make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
Similar to where they finished last season, the Sabres are in the middle of the pack in the outright odds at +3300 to lift the Stanley Cup. They are -105 to make the playoffs.
Levi has the third-shortest odds to win the Calder Trophy for the top rookie at +1200. He is +2800 - the 13th-shortest odds - to win the Vezina Trophy for top goaltender as a rookie.
Thompson has the 11th-shortest odds for the Hart Trophy at +2800. He is +1600 to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the league's top goalscorer.
Head coach Don Granato has the 10th-shortest odds at +1500 for the Jack Adams Award which honors the league's top coach.
Dahlin has the fifth-shortest odds at +1100 to win the Norris Trophy for top defenseman.
The team's over/under for regular season points is 92.5.
The Sabres' first Atlantic Divison clash comes four games into the season when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 17.
They play division rivals on back-to-back nights in October: Buffalo hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 23 and travels to play the Ottawa Senators the next night.
The Sabres' first game against division rivals the Boston Bruins - who won the President's Trophy for the team with the most regular season points last year - on Nov. 14 in Buffalo.
Buffalo reunited with their former star Jack Eichel when the Sabres visit his Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 15.
Their first matchup with Atlantic Division rivals the Florida Panthers - who beat them to the playoffs by a single point last season - is on Feb. 15, 2024. Their three games against the Panthers in the final months of the season could have crucial playoff implications.
Don Granato is the Buffalo Sabres' head coach.
The Sabres job is his first stint as head coach in the NHL. Before he joined the Sabres as an assistant, he coached the US National Team Development Program from 2013-2016 where he helped develop top NHL talents like Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin, Matthew Tkachuk, Charlie McAvoy, and former Sabre Jack Eichel.
Granato was promoted from assistant coach to the top job after Ralph Krueger was fired during the 2020/21 season.
The Sabres have improved in each of Granato's two full seasons in the job. While they finished fifth in the Atlantic in both 2021/22 and 2022/23, their points total increased by 16 between those two campaigns.
Granato's sister Cammi became the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and she works as an assistant general manager for the Vancouver Canucks. his brother Tony is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team.
Joseph Cecconi (D) (AHL)
Connor Clifton (D) (Boston)
Devin Cooley (G) (AHL)
Nikita Novikov (D) (KHL)
Linus Weissbach (LW) (AHL)
Lawrence Pilut (D)