The Daily Faceoff Show: Should the Buffalo Sabers be encouraged by their season?

Despite trading Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen, the Buffalo Sabers will finish the 2021-22 season with a much better point percentage than in 2020-21.

In Wednesday’s edition of The daily faceoff showFrank Seravalli and Chris Gear discussed whether the Sabers should be encouraged by their result in a season in which they set a record for the longest playoff drought in NHL history.

Frank Seravalli: Let’s talk about the Buffalo Sabers as we continue our Down and Out series looking at the non-playoff teams to close out the regular season.

My question for you is that when you look at the Sabers and the way this year has gone, they’ve had some major fights out of their group in those last 20-30 games which is a very promising sign for Don Granato and his team. Would you be encouraged about this season if you’re a Sabers fan? Or discouraged?

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Chris Gear: I am totally encouraged by the Sabres’ current situation. It took a very long time.

I wrote an article about it last week for Daily face-to-face: In the past 10 years, the Sabers have finished no higher than 23rd in the league. They will actually finish 24th this season, based on their current position. It’s an excruciating 10 years.

But when you look at what they’ve done now, moving on from Jack Eichel, bringing back Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, Tage Thompson really fired a cannon this year, Jeff Skinner had a rebound year, Kyle Okposo had a rebound year, Victor Olofsson is still a good player, and Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power, I think they’re starting to train enough young players and a few veterans to get them back to where they should be.

This is a team that I think has an outside chance to fight for a playoff spot next year. They’re definitely on the rise and I don’t foresee those 23rd, 24th, 30th places anymore in the next five or six years.

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Frank Seravalli: It’s like we’ve been saying that forever. “Next year is going to be the year,” and it goes on and on.

But I will say Jack Eichel’s trade looks awfully good. I think the Sabers have far exceeded expectations. You watch Alex Tuch come in, I think he really helped transform Tage Thompson’s season, you can see the confidence that exploded after that trade. You see the 38 points in 48 games for Tuch, Krebs looks like a player after starting in the AHL after the trade.

Things are blooming, there’s just a lot of teams to get through to get where they want to go. The questions we ask about the Sabers are probably similar to those about the Ottawa Senators. What year are they going to take that next step? I can’t help but look at the Sabers and think the Senators are another obstacle in your path to becoming a playoff team.

I think the Senators are much better organized in terms of depth, positional strength, all those different types of things, that it’s hard to see a way forward, at least in the immediate future.

You can watch the full episode here…

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