Last season, the Buffalo Sabers finished dead last in the NHL but have now managed to dig out of a deep rut contending for a top 5 spot in the league. A big factor in their surprising success has been their offseason transactions.
This year, the Sabers have been at work making some bold moves by trading star player Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, Tage Thompson, a 2019 1st round pick and a 2021 2nd round pick. 3 players and 2 picks may seem like a lot for one player but Ryan O’Reilly had been a solid centre for them and his past team, the Colorado Avalanche. O’Reilly had proven his worth and that’s why the Blues had to trade so much to get him. Tage Thompson is a good young player that will have a big impact on this team in the next decade. Berglund and Sabotka are both players who have been in the NHL for a while and will add experience to the younger prospects of the Buffalo Sabers.
Another blockbuster trade was Evander Kane going to the San Jose Sharks before the playoffs last season in return for a 2019 1st round pick, Daniel O’Regan and a 2020 4th round pick. Kane is a big solid forward who can put up points for any team he plays for, but he has had problems with his behaviour off the ice. The Sabers have also acquired Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes for prospect Cliff Pu, a 2019 second round pick and a 2020 3rd and 6th round pick. Jeff Skinner has been lighting the lamp this season, scoring 24 goals in 34 games.
The Sabers lineup is a lot different than last year, seeing how they have added Casey Mittelstadt who was one of their top prospects and put him on the second line replacing Ryan O’Reilly. Skinner, Sheary, Sobotka, Berglund, Thompson are all new players that were added this offseason and have had a big impact on this team. 2018 1st overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, who is an electrifying offensive defenceman, has also cracked the Sabers D core. He has been playing solid minutes for them and has been improving his game throughout the season.
One huge signing was the upgrade in goaltender Carter Hutton who has been playing really well with a .917 save percentage and a 2.60 goals against average.
Since naming Jack Eichel captain at the beginning of the season, the Sabers are 20-9-5 and are currently 2nd in the Atlantic Division behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Earlier this season the Sabers had a massive 10-game winning streak which gave them 1st place in the league. That was surprising for most people seeing how they finished last the past season.
As the season is getting closer to the playoffs, the thriving team has a good chance to snap their 7-year playoff drought. The last time they made the playoffs was back in the 2010-11 season when they got knocked out in the first round. The last time Buffalo made it to the playoffs, the result wasn’t what they were looking for. But this year, they have a good chance to survive to the later rounds seeing how the have shown what they are capable of during their 10-game win streak. Still, it will be tough to make it to the finals and knock out a team like the Maple Leafs or the Lightning. But if they keep playing well as a team and getting puck luck they have a good chance at winning it all.