Murray was beside himself in drafting Jack Eichel while trading for Robin Lehner, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane.*
When you combine those acquisitions with possible developmental gains for the likes of Sam Reinhart, the Sabres’ outlook gets awfully interesting. Of course, it’s also valid to note that this team has a lot of room for improvement. The Sabres weren’t even close to competitive in 2014-15, after all.
That actually leads us to Buffalo’s poll question: how long will it take for the Sabres to return to the postseason?
If you need a push either way, consider some of the posts from PHT’s Buffalo Sabres Day extravaganza.
As much as the Buffalo Sabres have improved lately, it still seems like they’re going to struggle on defense.
Honestly, there are strong odds that they’ll struggle a lot.
You can trot out the simplest stats (Buffalo allowed a league-worst shots on goal average of 35.6 per game, two more than second-worst Toronto) or go a little deeper (the Sabres’ Fenwick Close was downright ghastly), but the bottom line is that Buffalo was atrocious on D. Their offensive firepower was meek in 2014-15, yet the Sabres’ work in their own end was the leading reason people described them as “historically inept.”
GM Tim Murray made this team better in many ways – and certain facets should benefit Buffalo defensively – but the personnel is still lacking.
Even if Dan Byslma’s a big difference-maker, it’s difficult to imagine him working many miracles with some combination of Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian (pictured), Josh Gorges, Mike Weber, Matt Donovan, Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe and Carlo Colaiacovo.
(Seriously, take a step back and ponder that group for a moment.)
Look, players like Ristolainen could very well make significant strides in 2015-16. Buffalo is also likely to enjoy better two-way play from its forward group, as Ryan O’Reilly and David Legwand both possess some defensive chops. Again, Byslma’s systems could at least drag the Sabres closer to respectability, as well.
If you dial down the optimism to more reasonable levels, the Sabres are likely to put a ton of pressure on Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson next season, as that defense stands as a work in progress … at best.
NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit
“The Court finds that the (NHL’s) blanket application of the physician-patient privilege – protecting all medical data from disclosure – is inapplicable here,” Nelson wrote.
“The clubs are ordered to produce any internal reports, studies, analyses and databases in their possession (whether initiated by the U.S. clubs, NHL, or retained researchers) for the purpose of studying concussions in de-identified form. The U.S. clubs shall produce any responsive correspondence and/or emails between themselves, themselves and the NHL, or with any research or other professional about the study of concussions.”
Players names will not be shared in this process. The NHL reportedly estimates that producing such reams of data could cost about $13.5 million. Commissioner Gary Bettman was deposed for eight hours on Friday regarding the lawsuit, although his testimony is “under seal for now.”
Whether it was crafty veteran Craig Anderson or fast-food sensation Andrew Hammond, Lehner couldn’t snare the starting gig in Ottawa, and things only got worse when concussion issues ended his season altogether.
It’s easy to forget that Lehner sports a perfectly respectable career save percentage (.914) because his 2014-15 season was so unsightly: 9-12-3 with a mediocre .905 save percentage.
Long story short, Lehner has plenty to prove after a bumpy start to his NHL career.
A big opportunity, but a huge challenge
That said, he’s definitely getting a fair shot with the Sabres and GM Tim Murray. Murray was nothing if optimistic about acquiring the big Swede, as the Ottawa Sun noted after the trade.
“I think Robin needed a change of scenery,” Murray said. “I think he’s a very talented, big strong, young man that is just scratching the surface and, hopefully, we can bring the best out of him.”
Some might roll their eyes at the idea of a change of scenery making a difference, yet it’s not without precedent. Steve Mason’s resurgence in Philadelphia argues that a struggling netminder can thrive after a career Etch-a-Sketch shake.
Granted, it won’t be easy; Lehner’s essentially going from a holding pattern in Ottawa to a trial by fire with Buffalo. What do you think: will he sink or swim?
Drury, Ruggiero, Schneider headline 2015 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class
Ruggiero is a trailblazer in women’s hockey, especially for the U.S. She won four Olympic medals, including a gold in Nagano. USA Hockey notes that her 256 games in a Team USA uniform tops any other player in the country’s history.
She also joined the Hockey Hall of Fame, so this has been a big year of recognition for Ruggiero.
Big year for Angela Ruggiero. She's being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and
U.S. HHOF this year.
Drury (pictured) might as well be synonymous with “winning.” He always seemed to find himself in the right spot to score big goals during his hockey career, so it’s no surprise that he enjoyed such team success: an NCAA title with Boston University in 1995, a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001 and strong international work. He’s also the only player to win a Calder Trophy and Hobey Baker Award.
Schneider won a Stanley Cup himself with Montreal in 1993 and was part of the World Cup of Hockey team that won it all in 1996. He was a two-time All-Star.
Ron DeGregorio has helped shape American hockey for more than 40 years as one the most prominent volunteers in the history of USA Hockey and has conceived programs that have resulted in acclaim from around the world.
While DeGregorio’s ingenuity is evident in many areas, perhaps his most significant concept was starting USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 1996. A lightning rod for criticism when it was established, the NTDP has evolved into a revered program that has significantly enhanced elite player development and U.S. success in international competition.