The 2021-2022 NHL season begins October 12. With training camps opening this week, NHL.com takes a look at the Three Keys, the scoop on roster issues and the planned lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Buffalo Sabers.
Last season: 15-34-7; eighth in MassMutual East Division, did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs
[RELATED: Complete season preview coverage]
1. Growth and development
The Sabers rely on young forwards Dylan Cozens, 20, Casey Mittelstadt, 22 and Tage Thompson, 23 years old and defenders Rasmus Dahlin, 21 and Henri Jokiharju, 22, to take a new step in their development, especially if the 24-year-old captain Jack Eichel is either traded or not ready to start the season due to a herniated neck disc.
Mittelstadt made notable progress after Granato replaced Ralph Krueger on March 17, scoring nine of his 10 goals in 28 games, gaining nearly four more minutes of ice time per game (17:04) and playing his central position natural after skating on the kite. Dahlin also said he renewed his confidence following the change of coach. He also remains a restricted free agent.
Video : [email protected] : Mittelstadt’s whips bounce in a gaping cage
2. Mark more
The Sabers were tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 28th in the NHL last season with 134 goals, an average of 2.39 per game. They must catch up for trade Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers on July 24 after the forward scored 25 goals, a high for the team, and for Jeff Skinner so as not to be followed. The forward has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 53 games, two seasons after scoring a career-high 40 NHL goals.
3. Goalkeeper changes
The Sabers signed a goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year contract on July 28 following the departures of Linus Ullmark (signed with the Boston Bruins) and Carter Hutton (signed with Arizona Coyotes). The 40-year-old played four games (two starts) for the Washington Capitals last season and two (one start) in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Buffalo also Aaron Dell, Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, a 22-year-old who made his NHL debut and posted a 1-3-0 record with a 3.88 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in four games this season last.
SUMMARY OF THE LIST
Eichel’s injury creates an opening in the center of the first row. Mittelstadt and Cozens are at the top of the depth chart and each will be given an opportunity. The Sabers didn’t hesitate to play either one against the best opponents last season, including the Pittsburgh Penguins center. Sidney Crosby and center of the Bruins Patrice Bergeron.
Most intriguing addition
Will Boucher is expected to give the Sabers an attack on the defenseman and a potential quarterback for the second power-play unit following his acquisition in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on July 28. With a bigger role, Butcher could return to form which saw him score 44 points (five goals, 39 assists) in 2017-18 and 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) in 2018-19, his first two seasons. in the NHL.
Video : [email protected] : Butcher climbs up from the circle
The biggest potential surprise
Vinnie Hinostroza said one of the reasons he signed a one-year contract with the Sabers on July 28 was a phone call he had with Granato, a Chicago Blackhawks assistant for two seasons when the forward played there. His speed and relentlessness will add to a Sabers team looking to play with pace and offense, and with the potential for a role in the mid-six, he could add to some much-needed scoring depth.
Ready to drill
Arttu Ruotsalainen made a good first impression in his first season in North America last season when the 23-year-old forward scored five goals and 13 points in 13 games for the Rochesters of the American Hockey League. He has scored five goals in 17 games for the Sabers and I hope he can reach another milestone this season.
Mittelstadt scored 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 41 games last season, but finished with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in their last 22 games averaging 17:17 in ice time. He could keep his role on the front row with the Skinner wings and Victor Olofsson if Eichel is running out of time or is exchanged. Mittelstadt will be considered one of Buffalo’s top point producers, earning them a late selection in the underdog fantasy. – Rob Reese
Jeff Skinner – Casey Mittelstadt – Victor Olofsson
Anders Björk – Dylan Cozens – Tage Thompson
Rasmus Asplund – Arttu Ruotsalainen – Vinnie Hinostroza
Zemgus Girgenson — Cody Eakin — Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju
Will Boucher — Colin Miller
Robert Hagg — Marc Pysyk