The Athletic just predicted the Buffalo Sabres will be one of the NHL’s most improved teams in 2023-24, and their methodology is rather credible.
From a points perspective, the Buffalo Sabres were the fifth-most improved team in the NHL last season, behind only the New Jersey Devils, Seattle Kraken, Boston Bruins, and Vegas Golden Knights. This wasn’t supposed to happen, as many, including well-respected outlet The Athletic, listed the Sabres 2022-23 campaign as “hopeless” in foresight.
This year, however, despite the Sabres big-time jump in points, that same outlet is leaving nothing to chance. With what is still the league’s youngest hockey team per Elite Prospects with an average age of 25.54 going into the season, it’s not every day you see so much stock put into what is still, at the end of the day, an inexperienced group.
However, Murat Ates of The Athletic cites the sheer potential and sustainability in this young squad, discussing the way players like Tage Thompson were able to maintain and supersede a high level of productivity dating back to the 2021-22 season. And while Ates found it unlikely for Tage to sail north of that production, they also had this to say – and note, that they DID acknowledge Jack Quinn’s absence to open the season.
"“Cozens, Dahlin and Power are still very much on the upswing, though — as are Jack Quinn, JJ Peterka and Peyton Krebs, if you’re looking for a second wave of talent after the potential elites.” – via The Athletic"
Buffalo Sabres projected to be among the NHL’s most improved teams, per Athletic
When The Athletic ran this exercise last season, they projected the Seattle Kraken, New Jersey Devils, Vegas Golden Knights, Ottawa Senators, and Winnipeg Jets to be among the most improved teams in hockey. Their top two teams, Jersey and Seattle, took the #1 and #2 spot. However, they, along with the rest of the NHL universe, whiffed on the Boston Bruins, who ended up as the third most improved team last season.
Vegas, as mentioned earlier, were the projected third most, improved, and they ended up taking the fourth spot. That said, for the network to snag three out of four indicates that their projected improvement of the Sabres has a very, very good chance of becoming a reality.
Even more encouraging is the team that they ranked to be the fourth most improved last year, the Ottawa Senators, saw a +13 point increase. While there are no guarantees lightning will strike again for The Athletic, the fact that its takes from the previous season were relatively accurate should give fans of the Blue and Gold even more hope for 2023-24 – it’s also worth noting that the Buffalo Sabres were listed fourth in the order, so perhaps they may just be in for a 13-point increase of their own?