Sabres Play Final Contest Against New Jersey
On Thursday, April 6, the Buffalo Sabres played in their final game against the New Jersey Devils. With 17 games remaining in the 2021 season, the Sabres split the season series against the Devils. With the losing streak officially behind the Sabres, their play continues to become more consistent late in the season. Although the Sabres lost the final match up, the series split against the Devils is a moral victory for a team with no additional season accolades.
Sabres forward Victor Oloffson opened the scoring on Thursday night just 53 seconds into the game. The lead did not last long however as the Devils would go on to score three unanswered goals to close out the first period. The Sabres fought to own the second period, scoring two goals and giving up zero. The two second period tallies came from Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner. Unfortunately, Buffalo’s second period efforts would go to waste as the Devils netted three goals in the third. The final score of the contest was 6-3 New Jersey.
Buffalo Set To Face Washington
The Sabres next game is scheduled for Friday, April 9 against the Washington Capitals. With two games left against Washington, the Sabres have proven less than successful against Ovechkin and company. Although the Sabres split against the Devils, the season series lies at 5-1 Washington. However, although the Sabres struggled to this point against the Capitals, the current Buffalo Sabres are a much different team than earlier this season. Buffalo has been playing with much more passion as of late. A trait that must be attributed to Interim Head Coach Don Granato.
Two specific players who have excelled under the teams new staff are defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and forward Casey Mittelstadt. Dahlin struggled mightily in the early parts of the 2021 season. The former first overall pick has been long known for his offensive pretense, dating back to his time in Sweden. However, early in his career in Buffalo, his offensive abilities have been nonexistent. This has finally began to change, as the young defenseman has four points in his last five games. In addition, it is visibly evident that Dahlin has been playing with a much greater level of confidence now than he was under former coach Ralph Krueger. Casey Mittelstadt is in a very similar position as Dahlin. The former eighth overall pick has struggled in recent years to stay in the line up. Mittelstadt now has five points in his last five games.
The Trade Deadline Approaches
As the trade deadline grows near, rumors continue to circulate around the Buffalo Sabres organization. It is no surprise that a team like Buffalo enters this years market as sellers. The flaw in being in a selling position this year is there is so much uncertainty around the league. Much of this uncertainty comes from the ongoing global pandemic, but never the less will affect Buffalo.
The main rumor circulating the NHL is the potential trade involving Taylor Hall. Taylor Hall signed a one year, 8 million dollar contract with the Sabres this past summer. Since then, Hall has severely underperformed, yet is still considered a top forward in the league. The two main focal points of a potential trade regarding Hall are what will the return be, and where will he want to go given he has a no trade clause. The potential return becomes a factor due to the uncertainty mentioned perviously. The league seems to lack confidence in the upcoming draft due to the lack of exposure many players have received this past year. In addition, with the salary cap not increasing this off season, many teams are weary coming into the deadline.
The Sabres seem to be asking for a first round pick for Taylor Hall. In pervious seasons, that would be an easy decision for most teams. However, due to his lack of production there seems to be disparity between asking price and what teams are willing to give up for Hall. The final factor is Hall’s unrestricted free agent status after this season. Teams become more reluctant to offer up assets for a player who is not guaranteed to be in their organization the following year. Because of this, if the Sabres do not trade him, they will likely lose him for nothing. The NHL Trade Deadline is April 12, at 3pm.
“From Our Haus to Yours“