Welp, we are finally here. The 2018-2019 Season First puck drops in a little more than 72 hours. Needless to say opening the Season at home will guarantee a sell out, but the hype surrounding this team is legit. GM Botterill by all accounts had done beyond a masterful job getting through this off season. While the drafting of Calder Trophy Favorite Rasmus Dahlin was a no brainer. The trades for Sheary and Skinner while giving up nothing showed that this team believes that it can make a jump to not only playoff team, but playoff contender. Lets look at some of the milestones and achievements I think will happen this year.
Team MVP: Jack Eichel
Photo Credit: USA Hockey
This one is pretty easy to predict IMO. Jack who should have the "C" sewn on his sweater before the puck drops against the Bruins Thursday Night. But that isn't a decision I can make. But I do think that the Sabres Superstar is due for a massive season.
Rookie Of The Year: Casey Mittelstadt
Photo Credit: NHL.COM
I know, I know, Rasmus Dahlin......... I have no doubt Dahlin will be a perennial All Star, but rookie defense just do not generally make HUGE impacts in their rookie season. Meanwhile Casey showed in limited action last year that he can handle life as a NHL center. He SHOULD center the 2nd or 3rd line which will give him ample time to build on the start he had last season. It will also more importantly take the pressure of performing off him, that will allow him to relax and just play.
Bounce-back Player of the Year: Rasmus Ristolainen
Photo Credit: NHL.com
Anyone who has watched the Sabres knows that Risto was not himself last year. I do not know if it was him being totally over used for a couple seasons or just being fed up and frustrated with losing. But he was just not himself. There will be 2 major factors to his "rebirth",
1- I believe with a deeper blue line he will be used less and smarter than ever in his career. Averaging 22+ minutes a game is just to much for a young player.
2- I 10000% believe Risto will dominate this season because of Dahlin. Risto has been "THE" guy for this Sabres team for a few years, and now there is a young stud creeping up behind him. I totally think this motivates him to elevate his game, this is a great thing for Sabres fans.
+/- : +12
While I do not think the Sabres will be a Cup Contender this year, I do believe they take a MASSIVE step forward this year. The Sabres have averaged a sad 71 points per season the last 4 years. I think this year will be a lot different.
41-30-11 for 93 Points.
This is a big season for the Sabres players, Ownership and fans. The "tank" and rebuild needs to start giving results and producing winners not just continue to set the team back. Something tells me the Sabres will be buyers at the trade deadline for the first time in a very long time. The future is seriously bright if you are a Sabres fan!