The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made the postseason since the 2010-2011 season. They hit rock bottom this past season with the worst record in the league at 15-34-7. With the best chance at the first overall pick at nearly 17 percent, the Sabres hit the jackpot, when the lottery set the draft order.
As per the NHL betting lines, coming along with the first pick in the draft is putting the franchise in a complete rebuilding mode. Therefore, keeping Jack Eichel, who scored 36 goals two years ago before being limited to 21 games last year, could be unlikely. The Sabres will likely benefit more in the long run by trading key players for a large return.
It will be interesting to see the direction the Sabres take with the first overall pick. Certainly, there is significant talent coming out, but there is no player projected to be immediate, dominant force. As poor as the Sabres were this past season, a game-changer is needed.
One thing that general manager Kevyn Adams noted is that he won’t try to force players to help until they are ready, whether it’s the first overall pick or one later in the draft. The top players coming out will probably need time to fine tune their game before seeing significant NHL playing time.
At this point, it’s better that the Sabres part ways with Eichel, who has a terrible relationship with the franchise after disagreements with respect to his neck injury last season. A trade would wipe a big chunk of his $50 million dollar salary, freeing up money to sign free agents that could help in the rebuilding process.
Another player that desires to take his playing career elsewhere is center Sam Reinhart. The 26-year-old simply doesn’t want to be a part of another rebuilding period at this point in his career. The odd part is that the Sabres aren’t rebuilding “again”, they haven’t completed the rebuild. Both Reichart and Eichel are with the Sabres as a result of tanking. The problem is that despite drafting those two players in 2014 and 2015, the Sabres haven’t shown any improvement. Therefore, it’s time to move on from those players and take the rebuilding phase in a different direction. For the sake of the Sabres and their fans, let’s hope it doesn’t take another ten years to reach the post season.