Looking ahead for the Buffalo Sabres
March, 20, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN Insider
Bill Wippert/NHLI/Getty ImagesExpectations were low for the Sabres in 2013-14, but this is a crucial offseason for GM Tim Murray.As each NHL team is eliminated from the 2014 postseason, the focus shifts to 2014-15. Here’s an early look at the Buffalo Sabres’ offseason priorities, projected lineups for next season, free-agent targets, cap space and more.
What happened in 2013-14
Points (as of March 20): 46 (No. 30 in the NHL)
Goals per game: 1.84 (No. 30)
Goals against per game: 2.91 (No. 25)
Power play: 14.1 percent (No. 28)
Penalty kill: 82.1 percent (No. 15)
Corsi for percentage: 45.7 (No. 30)
Expectations this season: In our ESPN.com season preview, I picked the Sabres to finish last in the Atlantic, as did Katie Strang and Pierre LeBrun. Scott Burnside was the optimist -- he had them seventh.
Did they meet them? This was a rebuilding season in Buffalo, and that’s exactly what is happening, although the regime change to general manager Tim Murray and coach Ted Nolan, along with the Pat LaFontaine drama, added an unexpected twist.
Front-office offseason priorities
1. Make the Nolan extension official. Nolan was LaFontaine’s hire. While LaFontaine is no longer with the team, it looks like Nolan is here to stay. TSN’s Bob McKenzie first reported a few days ago that Nolan and the Sabres are finalizing a three-year deal to remove the interim tag and lock up that relationship for the long haul. It’s a good move. Despite their youth and talent deficiency, Nolan has the Sabres playing hard, and guys love playing for him.