The Buffalo Sabres haven’t gotten a good rap in one major outlet’s season preview, but they will vastly exceed their expectations.
You may have read numerous season previews involving the Buffalo Sabres, with quite a few stating that, at worst, the Blue and Gold would find themselves in wild card contention. Then came arguably the deepest season preview yet, this one from The Athletic, whose projection model had the Sabres finishing at an abysmal 87.2 points (rounded down to 87 if we’re talking whole numbers).
They projected Buffalo as having just a 21% chance of making the playoffs, and a 0% chance of winning the Stanley Cup. While the Sabres would be in Shock the World mode if they won the Cup, these projections state that they would also shock the world if they even made the playoffs.
It’s true that Buffalo had their flaws last season, as they couldn’t play defense, nor were they great on special teams. Okay, that’s being generous – they were awful on the penalty kill and inconsistent on the power play.
The good news, and it’s something The Athletic’s model may not take into account, is player development. And this is why they will finish at least 10 points higher than what the popular outlet is saying.
Buffalo Sabres will shatter one major outlet’s projection
Thankfully, recent history is not on The Athletic’s side. I checked out the Sabres 2022-23 season preview, and the outlet projected them to finish with 76.3 points, and just a 3% chance of making the playoffs. Yeah, the Sabres made their projection model look foolish, to put it bluntly, so I have no qualms in believing lightning will strike twice in this area.
And if you’d like to be entertained this morning, just check out the grades they gave last year’s Sabres team before the season. What I’m getting at is, you can have the best, most flawless projection model in the world, but I would trust that random person who just started following the NHL yesterday before I would a machine that has its fair share of drawbacks.
Source: Buffalo Sabres 2023-24 season preview: Playoff chances, projected points, roster rankings by Sean Gentille, Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman, The Athletic