Fans of the Buffalo Sabres have been suffering for the past 2 and a half years while the rebuild process is carried out. Fans have had to put their faith in General Manager Tim Murray. Murray made an evaluation of the roster he inherited from Darcy Reiger, and decided who he wanted to build around, and who he felt didn’t fit his team. The extent of the tank has been covered in depth here at Talk. Hockey, so I won’t cover the moves and decisions Murray’s made since taking over the General Manager position.
Instead, the key point fans need to realize, is that rooting for the tank for one more season, is important for this team to continue to build through the draft. The hard reality that fans can’t accept, is the fact that this team will not make the playoffs this season. Even with the reloaded roster, loaded with talented young players, still has to grow and mesh as a team. But rooting for them to go on a run, to maybe catch the playoff bubble, is a waste of time. The Sabres currently sit 13 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who definitely will make that margin bigger as the season comes closer to a finish. With 24 games remaining, 9 against teams currently in playoff positioning, and 10 games against teams within 7 points. The rest of the season is extremely important, it could mean adding another player that will could impact the team in a year or two, OR grabbing a player that is more of an unknown if they will become a top 6 forward or top 4 defensive pairing.
If Buffalo goes on a run, finds their footing and develops chemistry, it will not help them in the long run, and thats what’s important. We want a champion, not a team that will barely squeak into the playoffs, to have a first round exit. Even if this team somehow puts it together and does what Columbus did to close out last season, 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and 15-1-1 their last 17 games. Yes, that would mean a more exciting team, and exciting atmosphere, but this team still needs one or two more forwards, and another defenseman. The team needs another top pick. Next season will be the year to expect a competitive, playoff bubble team.
Buffalo will finish the season with 6 extremely important games, that are must lose games. With 2 games against Columbus (53 points), 3 games against Toronto (49 points), one against Edmonton (50 points). Last year this was an easiest sell with McDavid and Eichel on the line, but still a top 5 pick has more of a likelihood to contribute than a 10-14 selection, as those players will have missing aspects of their game. Buffalo needs to tread carefully, as this last stretch of the season, has a very big weight on if this team will be able to add another top piece.