The Dan Bylsma experiment in Buffalo only lasted for two seasons. Phil Housley takes over behind the bench in Buffalo. He was an assistant coach last season with the Nashville Predators. They made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Buffalo wants to establish an identity of speed and puck control. That is what new general manager Jason Botterill wants for his team. He was an associate general manager in Pittsburgh’s front office for almost a decade. Jack Eichel is the star player in Buffalo and Botterill got him some new toys to work with.
The Atlantic Division in the eastern conference isn’t that strong, but the other side of the conference is. If they can’t get a top 3 spot in the Atlantic, better luck next year. I think they will be competitive from the starter, but the Sabres Achilles heel will be their goaltending. Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010-2011.
Projected lines: Line 1: Evander Kane-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Line 2: Benoit Pouliot-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Line 3: Matt Moulson-Zemgus Girgensons-Jason Pominville
Line 4: Nicolas Deslauriers-Johan Larsson-Jacob Josefson
Defense 1: Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Defense 2: Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian
Defense 3: Viktor Antipin-Nathan Beaulieu
Robin Lehner will be the starting goalie. Chad Johnson will be the backup.
Expect these players to step up in case of injury: Justin Bailey, Seth Griffin, Alexander Nylander, Justin Falk, Casey Nelson, and Jason Kasdorf.