BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Sabres drop the puck on a new season Thursday night when their host the New York Rangers.
It’s no secret that Buffalo holds the NHL’s longest playoff drought, having not made the playoffs since 2011.
However, some expert projections predict that drought coming to a close this spring. Here’s a look where the Sabres are predicted to finish across a handful of national projections.
Picking the Sabres to make the playoffs
USA Today picked the Sabres to finish the season at 44-28-10, good for 98 points and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division. USA Today’s Mike Brehm picked Buffalo to finish behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins in the division.
“If young goalie Devon Levi is as good as advertised, the Buffalo Sabres will end their 12-year playoff drought, the NHL’s longest active one.”
Sporting News’ Bryan Murphy picked Buffalo to finish third in the division and make the playoffs, finishing behind Toronto and the Florida Panthers.
“Out of Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo, I’m only sold on the Sabres. It’s a team that has gotten better and better over the last two seasons and I am a huge believer in Devon Levi.”
Bleacher Report’s Adam Gretz predicted that the Sabres will end the playoff drought this season.
“The only real question will be whether they can get enough goaltending to bring it all together. That was the one big Achilles’ heel last season, but the Sabres have one of the league’s top goalie prospects in Devon Levi ready to make his presence felt. He looked good during his initial cup of coffee at the end of last season, and if he can solidify that spot, the Sabres will be ready to compete. Rapidly.”
Picking the Sabres to miss the playoffs
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski picked the Sabres to finish sixth in the Atlantic and extend the playoff drought, but gave hope for the future.
“If the Senators are making the playoffs, that means the Buffalo Sabres, sadly, are not. Thankfully I think this is the last season we’re going to have to say this. The Sabres are going to be tons of fun — outside of the Devils, no one creates more off the rush in the East than Buffalo.”
The Athletic’s NHL staff did not pick the Sabres to make the playoffs, having them fall just short.
National writer Sean Gentille: “I tried to get the Sabres in there, honest. [Tampa Bay Lightning goalie] Andrei Vasilevskiy’s injury got them a little closer, but I couldn’t pull the trigger.”
The Hockey News
The Hockey News‘ staff projected the Sabres to finish fifth in the Atlantic and miss out on the playoffs, but left the door open for some hope should teams ahead of them fall short of the projections.
“With that said, the up-and-coming Sabres and Senators are considered by the model to be closest to the playoff picture if another team underachieves and misses out on the post-season.”
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.