3 huge surprises from the Buffalo Sabres heading into the All-Star Break

The Buffalo Sabres have been a team full of major surprises in 2023-24 in some good and bad ways, so let’s check out the three biggest.

Jan 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Alex Laferriere (78) and
Jan 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Alex Laferriere (78) and / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Sabres play the San Jose Sharks in a late-afternoon matinee before they are off for nearly 10 days. Now that we are about to head into the break, it’s time to look back at the first 48 games of the year and check out three major surprises this team has given us - and they contain a mixture of good and bad. 

We have had some productive players this season, one of whom is listed below since we had no idea how well they would perform in 2023-24 after what was a breakout year last season. The second surprise is the disheartening one, but it’s not as hopeless as you may believe as we head into the “down the stretch” portion of 2023-24.

The third surprise is a good one that involves perhaps the Blue and Gold’s most improved player this season, and one we thought would be potential trade bait by the deadline back in October. Let’s check out each of these surprises individually and see how they have either helped make (and break) the season to this point. 

Buffalo Sabres
Jan 24, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Alex Laferriere (78) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres have given their fans some massive surprises this year

1 - Casey Mittelstadt embarking on his most successful run

Let’s start with the pleasant surprise on the list, and that involves Casey Mittelstadt factoring in as the Blue and Gold’s best forward. Mittelstadt ended up with his best season yet last year, but whether it was an outlier or if it was legit, we didn’t know.

The 25-year-old answered that question this season, leading the team with 40 points in 48 contests to go with a plus-7 rating, which is also pacing the Sabres. Even more amazing is the fact Mittelstadt’s points aren’t predominantly assists, with 12 of them being goals. It shows us he’s willing to fire the puck at the net, even if he can still stand to shoot the puck more often. 

His versatility has also been a major plus, and we have seen Mittelstadt factor in well with several linemates, whether he’s centering or playing winger on the top line, or if he’s on the bottom-six. If Mittelstadt’s stellar play continues for the final one-third of the season, the Sabres should have no choice but to keep the pending restricted free agent around.