Record: 15-34-7 37 points – 8th in the MassMutual East Division
Playoffs: Did Not Qualify
G – Carter Hutton, G – Linus Ullmark, D – Rasmus Ristolainen, F – Sam Reinhart, D – Jake McCabe
G – Craig Anderson, F – Vinnie Hinostroza, D – Robert Hagg, D – Will Butcher, D – Mark Pysyk, G – Aaron Dell
Going into the 2021-22 season there are a lot of questions surrounding the Buffalo Sabres. For one, the question of Jack Eichel needs to be addressed. Eichel has a herniated disk in his neck that requires surgery, and Eichel has made it known through his agents that he is not happy about the situation. At the time that I am writing this (August 24th), a resolution has not been made. Odds are Eichel will not play for the Sabres ever again, but also at the same time there could be a good chance he may not get traded as other teams may not want to risk losing draft picks and prospects over someone who could become a shell of themselves depending on how this situation continues to drag out. One way or another, this will be a distraction for the Sabres.
The biggest blow the Sabres took during the offseason was between the pipes. Losing Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark in free agency took away two solid goaltenders from Buffalo. The Sabres were able to acquire Aaron Dell and Craig Anderson, but Dell has shown that his nothing more than a backup goalie, and Anderson is now 40, and he barely played for the Washington Capitals last season. Anderson, who I personally wanted to see play more for the Capitals, is a very capable goalie and can be the number one for as long as they need him to be until they feel comfortable with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen taking over the number one spot between the pipes.
The Sabres did some retooling on defense as they traded Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Robert Hagg, and allowed Jake McCabe to sign with Chicago via free agency. The Sabres also signed Mark Pysyk to a one year deal, and acquired Will Butcher from the New Jersey Devils. Rasmus Dahlin is still the top defenseman on the squad, and was showing improvement under now head coach Don Granato, and with Robert Hagg on the team, gives them a good second pairing defenseman that can step in in Ristolainen’s absence. Butcher will look to this move to Buffalo as an opportunity to re-establish himself in the NHL.
Offensively… Victor Olofsson is the only real player of note at this time. Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt are still coming into their own, but after that it is a very steep drop in offensive talent. Ander Bjork showed promise after being traded to the Sabres from Boston as part of the Taylor Hall trade, and we’ll need to see how much of that will carry over. And then there’s Jeff Skinner. Sabres are really hoping they can get away from that contract one day.
Overall, it’s going to be another long season in Buffalo. They’ll be competitive, but they won’t be a playoff team this season, or in the years to follow. They still have a long ways to go before they’ll even be able to sniff the playoffs.
Jeff Skinner — Jack Eichel* — Victor Olofsson
Anders Bjork — Dylan Cozens — Tage Thompson
Rasmus Asplund — Casey Mittelstadt — Arttu Ruotsalainen
Zemgus Girgensons — Cody Eakin — Vinnie Hinostroza
Rasmus Dahlin — Henri Jokiharju
Will Butcher — Colin Miller
Robert Hagg — Mark Pysyk