Knowing Thy Enemy: Buffalo Sabres S.W.O.T. Analysis
Next up is the Kevyn Adams led Buffalo Sabres. Adams inherited a toxic situation in June 2020 surrounding the Jack Eichel status and whether he should be moved or not. Now that the Eichel situation has played out, the Sabres are just above the salary floor.
1) Signed G Craig Anderson to a one-year $1.5 million extension
2) Signed D Jacob Bryson to a two-year $3.7 million extension
3) Signed F Vinnie Hinostroza to a one-year $1.7 million extension
4) Signed F Victor Olofsson to a two-year $9.5 million extension
5) Signed D Ilya Lyubushkin to a two-year $5.5 million free agent deal
6) Signed G Eric Comrie to a two-year $3.6 million free agent deal
7) Signed D Lawrence Pilut to a one-year $750,000 free agent deal out of the KHL
8) Signed F Tage Thompson to a seven-year $50 million extension to begin in 2023-24
9) Signed F Riley Sheahan to a one-year two-way contract
Remaining cap space: $19,604,166.00
Here is the Roster for the Sabres heading into training camp.
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Jeff Skinner Dylan Cozens Tage Thompson
Victor Olofsson Vinny Hinostroza Alex Tuch
Zemgus Girgensons Peyton Krebs Kyle Okposo
Anders Bjork Casey Middlestadt Riley Sheahan/Jack Quinn
Left Defense Right Defense
Rasmus Dahlin Henri Jokiharju
Owen Power Ilya Lyubushkin
Jacob Bryson Mattias Samuelsson
Unlike Steve Yzerman’s off season in Detroit, Kevyn Adams’ suggests that he is operating on an internal budget with a full rebuild underway after moving Jack Eichel to Vegas. Most of the moves that were made in the off-season involved internal moves with very little splash in the free agent market. Much like the Senators have experienced in recent off-seasons prior to this one, this is a tough sell for Adams.
The Sabres are even taking a page out of the Arizona Coyotes playbook by acquiring the contract of Ben Bishop for future considerations to keep themselves cap compliant. The Sabres finished two points ahead of the Senators last season.
Here is the S.W.O.T. analysis to see the likelihood of that repeating itself.
Like the Senators, the Sabres have some blue-chip prospects who are establishing themselves in the league now.
Owen Power showed in limited time last season that he is real deal. Along with Rasmus Dahlin, who has played through the worst of situations, this bodes well for a #1 and #2 all-star defensemen in the Seven Player Profile
Right winger, Tage Thompson, has proven himself enough to warrant a long-term extension after year two of his entry level contract.
Dylan Cozens is going into the final year of his ELC and is trending in the right direction. Could be that star #1 center in the profile.
Peyton Krebs, who came over in the Eichel trade, is also in year three of his ELC and, like Cozens, is trending upwards. Possibly #2 all star center in the profile.
Casey Mittlestadt has been slower in his development but appears to be an established NHL player at 23.
Former 67’s forward, Jack Quinn, will be vying for a full time spot this year. Sky appears to be limit for him.
Eric Comrie was a potential steal at the goaltending position and could be that #1 goalie in the profile.
Down the middle, on defense and right wing, they are young, and the best is yet to come. Will it all come this year?
There is a lack of experience in this group from a winning perspective. Most of these players have lost a lot of games in recent years. They still need to learn how to win.
Jack Eichel has yet to be replaced as captain since his trade. Teams without clear leadership tend to pretend rather than contend when it matters most.
Eichel’s offensive abilities have also not been replaced as of yet though his toxicity being removed makes it seem like a wash. Still, that does not look like an offensive juggernaut lineup.
With over $19 million in unused cap space, the Sabres are in a position to sign their prospects to longer term deals without going into cap distress. That won’t affect this year. However, they are also not carrying a Zaitsev type of contract. Maybe they would like one exchange for a pick or two?
In fact, if Terry Pegula is willing to take on some cap space to help teams this year, Kevyn Adams could set himself up nicely with draft picks.
The Sabres seem to have a roster than can compete with teams in the Eastern Conference. However, they are working without a net. When injuries rear their ugly heads, they don’t seem to have the depth to survive that. What depth they have is “potential” depth rather than proven depth and this could take them out of the running if they hit an injury bug.
Finally, it may not affect this coming season, but, eventually, that Skinner contract is going to be a problem despite his improved play last year.
Looking at the Sabres roster, it looks as though they are at least a year behind the Senators in the development curve. It’s hard not to see the similarities in the two organizations.
The Senators had a ton of unused cap space at this time last year. They have players coming out of ELC along the lines of Tkachuk, Norris, Stutzle such as Thompson, Cozens and Krebs. They have a Thomas Chabot type of defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin. Who knows how Owen Power and Jake Sanderson will align?
They have the makings of a decent Seven Player Profile minus that illustrious power forward that the Senators have in Brady Tkachuk. However, there is a difference between potential and realized potential. The only way the Sabres can oust anyone and win a playoff spot is if all of their potential realizes itself and they remain healthy. This seems unlikely.
I see the Senators with a more stable leadership group and offensively dangerous forward group ready to compete today. I see the Sabres being that way in a year or two. For now, they are not who I see as the key threat to win a wildcard spot in the east. That said, these teams play each other four times this year.
Those will be eight key swing points and the Sabres could hurt the Senators bid for the playoffs by stealing them.
By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey