Buffalo Sabres 2020 Season Preview: Odds and Predictions

Buffalo Sabres 101

Founded: 1970

Home Arena: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY., 19, 070 capacity

Championships: President’s Trophy: 1, Conference titles: 3, Division titles: 6

Owner: Terrence Pegula

General Manager: Jason Botterill

Head Coach: Ralph Krueger

Team Captain: Jack Eichel

Offense

Despite the addition of offensive threat Jeff Skinner during last year’s offseason and some moments of early glory, including a ten-game winning streak last November, the 2019 season was a rather forgettable one for the Buffalo Sabres. In fact, when it comes to the team’s offensive woes, only three players on the team surpassed the 35-point mark last season and the team finished 24th-overall in goals scored. Their powerplay was middle-of-the-pack in 2019, coming in at 16th in the league. The Sabres did put up the eighth-most shots in the league but, as a team, that translated into only an 8.2 percent shooting percentage – the second-worst in the league.

Moving forward towards 2020, the first big move made by the Sabres brass was extending Jeff Skinner’s contract. Skinner received an eight-year deal worth $9-million per season. The Sabres were also able to draft top-prospect Dylan Cozens in the 2019 draft. The team also added young, offensive talent Jimmy Vesey from the New York Rangers and veteran star Marcus Johansson also signed with the team as a free agent this offseason.

Defense

The Buffalo Sabres defense was simply abysmal in 2019. The Sabres allowed the ninth-most shots against with 2,704 and the eighth-most goals against with 268. They allowed the fifth-most goals against at even strength as well. They did manage to crack the 80 percent mark for penalty killing success, but just barely at 80.93 percent. They did, however, allow the sixth-least amount of power play goals against. They also allowed nine shorthanded goals against – the tenth-most in the NHL.

The Sabres acquired defenseman Colin Miller from the Vegas Golden Knights during the offseason and should be reliable to round out the top-four defenseman on the team. It’s safe to say that Rasmus Ristolainen will once again be a part of the top pairing but who he’d play with looks uncertain. Last year’s top draft pick Rasmus Dahlin will enter his sophomore season in 2020 and could see top-pairing minutes as well. Buffalo also made a deal for a prospect with very high potential from the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason: Henri Jokiharju. The defense for the Sabres has great potential but were hindered last year by coaching choices that saw Marco Scandella and Zach Bogosian get more ice time than necessary. Should the new coaching staff let their youth take over on the backend, 2020 could show the start of what could be one of the more successful defensive teams in recent years.

Goaltending

2019 saw the addition of Carter Hutton to the Buffalo Sabres crease. Considering the low quality of play in front of him, Hutton managed respectable numbers between the pipes for Buffalo. He finished his season with a goals against average of 3.00 and a save percentage of .908 in 50 games played. Backing him up was Linus Ullmark, who had similar numbers to Hutton. Ullmark started 37 games last season and had a GAA of 3.11, a save percentage of .905, and put up two shutouts.

Heading into 2020, the goaltending will be much of the same. Carter Hutton is expected to be favoured as the starting goaltender. Linus Ullmark reached a new deal in the offseason with the Sabres but it came down to an arbitration hearing. Should that not be a soft-spot for Ullmark, he’ll be a reliable back-up to Hutton and both goalies will hopefully have a solid defense corps in front of them which will give both of them confidence after a 2019 that was filled with defensive blunders in front of their own net.

Head Office

After much criticism and poor decisions when it came to line-making, Phil Housley was fired as the head coach for the Sabres. It was announced that former Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger would take over as the bench boss for the team. Krueger is known for his experience of coaching young talent. During his time with the Oilers, he had nine players under 24. He took their 27th ranked power play to third-overall. He hasn’t coached since 2013 and spent much of his last few years working for English Premier League.

Projected Stars

It’s tough to pick just one as this could be the year that Jimmy Vesey finally settles into a team with strong players around him and finally show off why he was so highly sought-after a few years back. But, it’s another new addition that seems poised to light up Sabres fans in 2020 and that’s defenseman Colin Miller. Miller had great success with the Vegas Golden Knights. Last season he put up some of his lowest numbers but still managed 29 points in 65 games. Miller is also expected to get some playing time with Rasmus Dahlin who has a way of making whoever he plays with look even better than they are.

Stanley Cup odds for 2020

The Sabres round out the bottom-five when it comes to the odds of winning the 2020 Stanley Cup. Buffalo sits at a +5500. Their season-end total points O/U sits at 79.5 and they are a -400 to miss the playoffs (+300 to make it).

Team Total Points in the Competition – Regular Season

SportsbookOver 79.5Under 79.5Link
888Sport NJ-112-112

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Will the Buffalo Sabres make the NHL playoffs?

SportsbookYESNOLink
888Sport NJ+300-400

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Stanley Cup Winner – Buffalo Sabres Odds

SportsbookChampionship WinnerLink
888Sport NJ+5500
BetStars NJ+6000

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