Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the leaguewide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
The NHL's worst team in 2013-14, the Buffalo Sabres went into full rebuild mode after several campaigns of coming up just short of the postseason. Victims of ownership's plan to draft high were aplenty: The Sabres fired coach Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier, and traded star scorer Thomas Vanek and face-of-the-franchise goalie Ryan Miller.
Long term, Buffalo will not regret its trade deadline fire sale or last-place finish. The Sabres selected Sam Reinhart, who tops a prospect group that ESPN Insider Corey Pronman ranks as the best in the league, with the No. 2 overall pick.
The 2014-15 Sabres are not ready to compete for the Stanley Cup, or even a playoff spot, for that matter. New general manager Tim Murray signed several veteran leaders -- including former Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta -- to improve the locker room, but it will not be anywhere near enough to take them out of the running for next season's first overall pick.