Buffalo Sabres

One team that is deserving of a Stanley Cup is the Buffalo Sabres after all these years in the NHL, and by the looks of things, it could be this season according to the experts. The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team was established in 1970, along with the Vancouver Canucks, when the league expanded to 14 teams. They have played at KeyBank Center since 1996. Prior to that, the Buffalo Sabres played at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium from the start of the franchise in 1970. The Sabres are owned by Terry Pegula, who purchased the club in 2011.

The city of Buffalo is located on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, at the head of the Niagara River, and 16 miles south of Niagara Falls. Buffalo is recognized for its early embrace of electric power, owing to the nickname "the City of Light." The city is also famous for its urban planning and layout by Joseph Ellicott, an extensive system of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as significant architectural works spanning multiple centuries. It is a cultural center blending Northeastern and Midwestern United States traditions, with dozens of prominent annual festivals (including Taste of Buffalo and Allentown Art Festival), two professional sports teams (Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres), and a long-standing music and arts scene.

The first Buffalo Sabers owners were Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup Knox, scions of a family long prominent in Western New York and grandsons of the co-founders of the Woolworth's variety store chain; along with Robert O. Swados, a Buffalo attorney. The name "Sabres", was chosen because Seymour Knox felt a sabre, a weapon carried by a leader, could be effective on offense and defense. The team has twice advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 and to the Dallas Stars in 1999.

The best known line in team history is The French Connection, which consisted of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert. All three players have had their sweater numbers (11, 7 and 14, respectively) retired and a statue erected in their honor at KeyBank Center in 2012. The French Connection which was the nickname of a forward line that played for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League from 1972 until 1979: Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault at centre and All-Stars Rick Martin and Rene Robert at left wing and right wing, respectively. All three players were French-Canadians from Quebec: Perreault from Victoriaville; Robert from Trois-Rivières; and Martin from Verdun, Quebec. The trio led the Sabres to the Stanley Cup playoffs every full season they were together, except the 1973–74 NHL season when Perreault suffered a broken leg and only played in 55 games. The impact of the combination was obvious as the team began the first full season of the French Connection era with a ten-game unbeaten streak; the team made the playoffs for the first time in the history of the franchise and the three members of the French Connection were the teams three leading scorers. The team suddenly went unbeaten in their first 21 home games, while setting a record for post 1967 expansion teams by recording a home winning streak of 12 and while going unbeaten in New York state for 25 games.

The 2018-19 version of the Buffalo Sabres has only one certainty: the outcome of the season is entirely unpredictable. Going into training camp in a few weeks, enthusiasm has been rekindled with the arrival of the No. 1 overall draft pick, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Former Minnesota Mr. Hockey, 19-year-old Casey Mittelstadt, will begin the year by playing his seventh NHL game. But the experts are predicting a good year for the team and consider the Buffalo Sabres as one of the rebuilding teams closest to contending for the Stanley Cup. And the media is also taking a second look. The Buffalo Sabres aren’t usually getting praised by the media, but this year seems to be a lot different. The media might not have high hopes for the team this season, but they sure are excited to see this team develop and transition into a playoff team sooner rather than later. In an article published by media last week, they went through and listed the nine teams in the NHL that were currently rebuilding and ranked them by who was closest to contending for the Stanley Cup. Of course, the Buffalo Sabres are currently rebuilding, inside of a rebuild, and were included in the article. Of the nine teams media highlighted, the Sabres ranked fourth behind New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes, who were the top ranked. The other five teams that the Sabres beat out were the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators.

The experts also shed light on the fact that the Sabres are close to having the “essential ingredients for a contender,” meaning two top young centers (Eichel, Mittelstadt), two top young defenders (Dahlin, Ristolainen), and a young goalie on the up-and-up (Ullmark). With the amount of young talent on the roster, the Sabres hold a lot of chips going into the 2019 season.

The future’s looking good for the Buffalo Sabres and if all goes well, this team’s dark days will be over before we know it. They have signed top draft pick Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, entry-level contract. Coming in last place in the 2017-18 season Buffalo selected the 18-year-old defenseman from Sweden with the first pick in last month's draft. The signing was announced by the team and the terms of the deal were not disclosed. The maximum value of an entry-level contract for a No. 1 pick is $11.325 million over three years. Dahlin is expected to make an immediate jump to the NHL after playing two seasons with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League. Rasmus Dahlin can somehow account for 38 more points in the standings and roughly 40 more goals on the ice for the team which could give them the jump they need to become contenders for the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. The hockey fans in Buffalo sure could use a great season from their team and if all goes as planned, this could be the year. Stay Tuned.