It’s been a while since the Buffalo Sabres topped the list of NHL teams to watch, even with Jack Eichel in the lineup. But who isn’t excited to catch a glimpse of the newest member of the Sabres family, Rasmus Dahlin?
Dahlin, the Swedish phenom and the Sabres’ first overall draft pick in 2017, is the most highly-anticipated defenseman to hit the NHL since Aaron Ekblad was drafted at number one by the Florida Panthers in 2014. Dahlin is the type of player who can turn a franchise around thanks to his excellent passing skills and vision. The 18-year-old can start the rush with ease and has the ability to reinvigorate a floundering power play (ranked 20th in 2017-18); he is what the Sabres have been waiting for.
While fans crowded the development camp at the end of June to catch a glimpse of the franchise’s newest superstar, the Sabres further improved their roster with other offseason acquisitions including goaltender Carter Hutton and forwards Conor Sheary, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson.
It’s been seven years since the Sabres last made the playoffs (the second longest NHL postseason drought behind the Carolina Hurricanes (9)) and eleven seasons since they made it out of the first round. This is the best roster the team has iced in over a decade and, realistic or not, most will expect them to make the postseason in 2019.
With at least 84 games ahead, here’s a look at the Sabres’ 2018-19 schedule:
The Sabres will play seven preseason games however, only two will be played at the KeyBank Center, giving fans a limited opportunity to see Dahlin and gauge the prospects coming up the ranks in their own arena.
During this seven-game stretch, the team will visit three NHL cities including Columbus, Toronto and Pittsburgh while the two other games will be played on neutral ice in Clinton, New York (part of Kraft Hockeyville USA) and Oshawa, Ontario.
Sabres Home Opener
The Sabres open their season with a four-game homestand at the KeyBank Center starting with a matchup against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 4. The team then heads west on a five-game road trip, their longest of the season, to face off against the Pacific Division which includes their second and final meeting against last season’s Stanley Cup Finalist Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 16, the first is at home on Oct. 8.
Other Notable Dates
The team’s longest homestand of the season is a seven-game stretch at the beginning of February. Five the Sabres’ nine Saturday home games will take place in the afternoon, including a visit from the Cup-winning Washington Capitals on Feb. 23 at 1 pm.
The Sabres will sit out their bye week right before the All-Star break in January.
Sabres Final Games
Finally, their last stretch of the season will be the most important if they are battling for a playoff spot as nine of their last ten games will be played against Eastern Conference rivals, including a visit from the Ottawa Senators on April 4, their last home game of the season and their final game against the Detroit Red Wings on April 6 at Little Caesars Arena.
There’s plenty of interest in the NHL’s newest Cinderella team so be sure to get your tickets early!