Buffalo Sabres at a glance
LAST SEASON: 35-36-11, 81 points. Finished 23rd in NHL after two consecutive last-place finishes, and missed playoffs for fifth consecutive season.
COACH: Dan Bylsma (second season, eighth NHL season)
ADDED: F Kyle Okposo, D Dmitry Kulikov, G Anders Nilsson.
LOST: F David Legwand, D Mark Pysyk, G Chad Johnson.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jack Eichel. Selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Eichel finished second among NHL rookies with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists). The 19-year-old displayed breakaway speed and a powerful shot. Eichel is being counted upon to become more consistent now that he has a full season behind him. Eichel went through an 11-game slump spanning November and December, during which he combined for a goal and three assists.
OUTLOOK: The expectations are higher for a Sabres team that made the jump from rock bottom to being relevant by finishing 23rd last season following two consecutive last place finishes. Though missed playoffs for fifth consecutive year, Buffalo showed signs of jelling by closing last year with a 16-10-7 run. Additions of Okposo and Kulikov adds experienced top-line depth to young core. Big question mark is whether G Robin Lehner can establish himself as trusted starter after two injury-shortened seasons.