All eyes are on Sabres rookie Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo
LAST SEASON: 25-45-12, 62 points. Finished last in NHL standings for third time in five years.
COACH: Phil Housley (second season, second NHL season).
ADDED: LW Jeff Skinner, LW Conor Sheary, C Tage Thompson, C Patrik Berglund, C Vladimir Sobotka, rookie D Rasmus Dahlin, D Matt Hunwick, D Lawrence Pilut, G Carter Hutton.
LOST: C Ryan O’Reilly, G Robin Lehner, LW Benoit Pouliot, D Victor Antipin, D Josh Gorges, C Jordan Nolan, G Chad Johnson.
PLAYER TO WATCH: All eyes will be on Dahlin, the 18-year-old Swedish-born smooth-skating, play-making defenseman selected with the first pick in the draft. Dahlin has such potential, Hockey Hall of Fame coach and nine-time Stanley Cup-winner Scotty Bowman says the youngster has the potential to become the best defenseman in Sabres history. Dahlin has already roused a fan base, which jammed the Sabres 1,800-seat practice facility to see him perform during the team’s rookie camp in June and a four-team prospects tournament earlier this month.
OUTLOOK: The Sabres can’t get much worse than the over-priced and under-achieving squad that won three straight games just once, and endured losing streaks of four or more games seven times last season. Things became so grim, O’Reilly in April revealed he lost his passion for playing at times, and a losing mentality crept into the locker room. O’Reilly was traded to St. Louis in one of numerous moves GM Jason Botterill made to overhaul a roster that will feature anywhere between nine and 12 players not in the season-opening lineup a year ago. The question is how long it will take for the newcomers to find chemistry.
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