The Buffalo Sabres Look to be Turning a Corner Following Years of Mediocrity

Heading into the 2021-2022 season, many Buffalo Sabres fans came in with much lower expectations for the future of their hockey team as the relationship between upper management and their captain Jack Eichel had come to an impasse.

Eichel was sidelined for the rest of the 2021 season in early March after he suffered a herniated disk in his neck after a collision against the New York Islanders.

Only a month later it was revealed that Eichel and upper management came to heads as Eichel wanted to undergo a disk-replacement surgery that was unfamiliar in NHL circles, while the Sabres felt a rehabilitation treatment was the way for the parties to move forward.

The star forward voiced his displeasure with the way the situation had been handled by the Sabres, as they announced that he would be held out after failing a team physical in training camp and he would be placed on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR), and had his captaincy stripped from him.

In November, the Vegas Golden Knights would swoop in as saviour as they traded for the young American forward, in exchanges for Buffalo native Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first round pick and 2023 second rounder.

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While many viewed the trade at the time as a potential fleecing in terms of what the Sabres could have received for Eichel, it might be turning out to work well in favour for them in the long run.

Following an impressive comeback against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday evening, which saw the Sabres comeback from a 4-0 and 5-4 deficit to win the game 6-5, Buffalo is currently 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.

On the evening the Sabres offence was supplied by the players who are now expected to lead them through their post-Eichel era. Two goals from Victor Olofsson and with goals from Alex Tuch and Tage Thompson came from their three forwards under the age of 25.

Olofsson may never reach the ambitions that many Sabres had for him following his 20 goal rookie season, which was spent for large portions alongside the aforementioned Eichel, Olofsson is slowly working on reaching the 20 goal plateau once again after struggling last season, and could be a very serviceable winger for the team for the future.

When Syracuse, NY native Alex Tuch was traded to the Sabres as one of the big pieces to return in the trade, he might have been overlooked by many who were grading the trade, but he has provided great value so far in his limited sample size.

Following offseason shoulder surgery that kept Tuch out of action for six months, which delayed the start of his season he made his season debut in late December, this time ditching a Knights jersey for a Sabres one.

With his ninth goal of the season against the Hawks he now has 28 points in 35 games, or a 66 point pace across 82 games. Injuries have hampered the former first round pick by Minnesota in 2014, but his point production is something that the Sabres were definitely missing for the past couple of seasons.

Tuch is under contract with Buffalo until the 2025-2026 season, and they are hoping he takes strides in the future.

One of the brightest stories for the Sabres season has been the emergence of Tage Thompson as one of the team’s premier forwards.

With 28 goals and 53 points on the season, the 6’7 Arizona native is having quite the breakout year with the Sabres. The former first round pick of the St. Louis Blues joins nine former first round picks on the team as many are looking to live up to these lofty expectations, and in the case of Thompson, he has shown the brightest all year.

Thompson becomes an RFA after next season, and the Sabres would be looking to lock him up for the future as they build around this young core, with all the young talent on the team and coming up through the ranks.

While it might be a couple more years until the Sabres are competitive once again, this run of form could potentially carry for the rest of the season and into next year, as it looks as if the Sabres might have finally turned a corner after years mired in mediocrity and disillusion from top to bottom

General Manager Kevyn Adams could potentially be changing the culture around the Sabres sooner than many people think, keep an eye on them going forward.


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