Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Are the Sabres 'not that far off?'

08/16/2014 at 3:20am EDT

NHL.com's "30 in 30" series focuses on the Buffalo Sabres today, with the team's top prospects, Anthony Stewart's presence and steps that need to be taken by both in-the-lineup players like Tyler Myers and top picks like Sam Reinhart faring significantly into the probability of the team turning itself around this upcoming season. The "hook" regarding today's articles comes in the form of surprising comments come from Sabres coach Ted Nolan and the aforementioned Stewart, who issue "We're not that far off" comments to NHL.com's Jon Lane:

Following what he called a "completely unacceptable" season, [Sabres GM Tim] Murray refused to buy into a five-year rebuild and accelerated the Sabres' reconstruction with the signing of five free agents on July 1.

"Probably the best couple of words I heard out of Tim's mouth was when he said 'five years,'" said Ted Nolan, who went 17-36-9 after taking over as interim coach and signed a three-year contract extension in March. "Who knows what's going to happen five years from now? I always, as a coach, just worry about now. My now is preparing this team to be the best we can. If we get the players like we did this summer, it could be a very short rebuild and we get to the point to where we're battling for what everybody wants, and that's the Stanley Cup."

It may not be easy, but a Stanley Cup Playoff spot isn't impossible. Look no further than the Colorado Avalanche, who last season improved from the League's second-worst record to the third-best and a Central Division title. Murray's aggressive approach made a believer of forward Chris Stewart, one of the first rebuilding chips acquired in the Ryan Miller trade, who feels the playoffs are "a very, very realistic goal for us."

"I think on paper right now there's no doubt in my mind that we're a playoff-bound team," Stewart said. "We have some good players who are ready to take a step in the right direction and start leading. I think July 1st we took a big leap in the right direction and I think we'll be a team that definitely surprises some teams next year."

Nolan and Stewart continue, and I would suggest that it might be a little harder to break into the playoffs playing in a division with the Bruins, Canadiens, Lightning, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Senators and Panthers than one might think...

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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