The Sabres Observer
If you thought the embarrassing level of ineffective offense displayed by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013-14 was as bad as it could get, you were mistaken.
Buffalo is in position to break its own record of futility.
Tell me if this is a player you'd like your team to get in the upcoming draft:
A big-bodied power winger with the ability to physically dominate, making him a prominent forechecking presence every night. Possesses good hands that can be used to make crisp passes or to let loose accurate, NHL-level shots; paired with his strength and skating ability, his skill set allows him to contribute offensively, as well as create space for teammates.
Sign me up. How can we get that guy?
Well, ISS (International Scouting Services) Hockey just released its latest 2015 Top 30 Draft Rankings, and that description was taken right from the Elite Hockey Prospects page of the highest ranked player not named McDavid or Eichel.
Thanks to a strong showing for Canada in the World Juniors, he may have just replaced Noah Hanifin as the top consolation prize for the team slotted third in the McDavid/Eichel draft. His name is Lawson Crouse.
Hey, Boston. I hear you're trying to make a deal quickly to stop your ship from sinking.
Looking to get a forward who can score but don't want to mortgage the farm to get him?
Having some conversations with Tim Murray but not ready to pay his asking price for big man Chris Stewart?
If no deal for a stud sniper falls on your lap soon, I have a lower-scale solution for you.
There have apparently been some rumblings in league circles that the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild are discussing a possible trade that would send goaltender Jhonas Enroth to Minnesota.
Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman talked about the Enroth rumor last night, saying both teams are denying it.
They did it again.
It took a shootout and recovery from blowing a 2-goal lead to do it, but the Sabres defeated Ottawa 5-4. Buffalo is now 4 points behind 8th in the East.
That's 10 wins in 13 games, despite only having outshot their opponent in 2 of them.
Do we chalk another one up to puck luck? There have been some games during this stretch where the Sabres were the recipients of good fortune (do you deserve to beat Calgary when you're outshot 45-19?), but last night's win was hard earned and well deserved.
Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn each had a goal and an assist in this one. Tyler Myers (1 assist, 31:09 TOI), Rasmus Ristolainen (1 goal, 25:24 TOI) and Nikita Zadorov (4 hits, 2 blocked shots, 27:44 TOI) logged heavy minutes on the blue line. Jhonas Enroth looked like he could use a game off yet still made enough saves -- including some big stops in the shootout -- to seal the victory.
As these wins keep piling up, you wonder when the word "playoffs" is going to creep into the conversation.
That time is just about here. No matter what you think of your team, you can't ignore the standings.
The big question today isn't whether or not GM Tim Murray and the Sabres are up for an attempted run to the playoffs -- it's whether or not the fans are up for it.
Today is the one-month anniversary of the beginning of an improbable streak by the Sabres that has seen them win nine of their last twelve games.
What follows is a statistical breakdown of this past month. What some of these eye-opening numbers will show is that Buffalo will have to play much better hockey for this success to be sustainable.
Based on reports coming from Sabres practice this morning, it looks like Nikita Zadorov will be staying with Buffalo and not joining Russia for the World Junior Championship.
It appears as though trade talks between the Sabres and Red Wings involving Tyler Myers are still very much alive.
From Bill King of SportsBusiness Journal (and reprinted in Buffalo Business First),
Cliff Benson reached for a sheet of scratch paper, leaned forward and began sketching the resurgent south side of Buffalo's downtown.
Over here is the waterfront. There, First Niagara Center, where the Sabres play. Here is the HarborCenter, the $172 million complex that the Pegulas opened across from the arena last month, with two hockey rinks, the vast and impressive (716) Food and Sport bar, a Tim Hortons doughnut shop and, soon, a Marriott. There, about a mile and a quarter up the rail line, is a medical campus that has spurred much of the downtown rebirth. Along the way is the Class AAA baseball park, Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons.
And here, snug between the arena and the ballpark …
Here is where Benson stopped drawing, tapping his pen to a blank spot and looking up.
"If the stadium is right here," said the confidant whom Terry Pegula dispatched to Buffalo to help execute his vision, not so much for the team as for the city, "then you can tie all of that together under the theory that as those assets are developed, other people will come invest.
"For Terry, this was about more than owning a hockey team, though he loves owning the hockey team. Now, it's about more than owning two teams. This is about Buffalo, and the region, and economic growth."
It's been no secret for the past few months that the Sabres have been shopping forward Chris Stewart.
Apparently, talks are starting to heat up.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]