The Buffalo Sabres second pairing will most likely team Owen Power with the incoming Connor Clifton, and the duo could round out a solid top-four.
The Buffalo Sabres projected second pairing comprises a second year player who found himself in the running for the Calder this past season and an incoming talent who many believe can handle more ice time. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding Owen Power and Connor Clifton, but if Power can make The Jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and if Clifton proves he can handle the top-four, then the Blue and Gold will be much better off this year.
Last season, defense was a struggle for our Sabres, and unless they averaged over 3.65 goals on a per game basis, they weren’t likely to win often. And they didn’t win often enough, negating them a chance at a playoff spot.
As with Dahlin and Samuelsson, our projected top pairing, you will see Power’s two-way game improve while Clifton provides a stay-at-home presence. So what could their point productivity look like?
Projecting the Buffalo Sabres second pairing’s scoring output
Ceiling: 30 points, 7 goals, 23 assists, 7.5% shooting percentage
Floor: 16 points, 2 goals, 14 assists, 3.5% shooting percentage
Although Clifton brings a stay-at-home mentality, he put up 23 points last season, indicating that he’s at least capable of producing offensively. In my bold predictions piece involving the former Boston Bruin, I stated he could put up at least 30 in the Buffalo Sabres high-octane system.
However, with Dahlin and Power (see below) present, Clifton will more likely find himself gracing his projected floor. He’s there to play a stay-at-home game, or at least that appears to be the case in foresight, and he will excel in that regard. So with Clifton’s floor projection more likely, what does Power’s potential look like?
Ceiling: 50 points, 11 goals, 39 assists, 7.0% shooting percentage
Floor: 40 points, 7 goals, 33 assists, 3.0% shooting percentage
I often don’t deviate too far from the numbers we saw last season, but if anyone in the defensive rotation is making a jump in points, it’s Owen Power. Unlike last season, his shots on goal should increase from 130 to at least 175-180, and the total shots attempted should sail north of the 300 mark.
The 50-point ceiling was part of my bold predictions, and if I were to give a realistic take, Power will likely end up somewhere between 43 and 45 points, which is still a substantial increase from his 35 the previous season. He should also be a catalyst for more than his fair share of sequences, so judge his game on chances that he will inevitably create.
(Statistics from Hockey-Reference assisted in each respective player’s floor and ceiling)