Through a few big trades, general manager Jason Botterill has done his best to improve the Sabres — especially as it pertains to offense.
So, what could the Sabres lineup look like when the puck drops October 4?
We start with where Botterill has built championship teams in the past — down the middle — with Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Patrik Berglund and Zemgus Girgensons as the starting four centers.
We know what Eichel brings. But, can Mittelstadt handle big minutes in his first full year in the league? That’s the big question. But, there’s no denying his play making ability. Berglund is a dependable third pivot who could slot into the 2C role if Mittelstadt gets overwhelmed early on in the season.
So, what could the top line look like? Conor Sheary thrived on the wing of Sidney Crosby, who made everyone better around him. We know Eichel can do the same and, along with Sam Reinhart’s gritty play on the right wing, this should be a formidable, dependable scoring top line.
If the Sabres are going to embrace the youth movement — embrace it and let Tage Thompson grow alongside Mittelstadt and Evan Rodrigues who should provide a steadying, veteran presence on the second line. Mittelstadt is can make things happen, Thompson has a lethal shot and, Rodrigues has shown a knack to do it all in the NHL.
Taking a look at the bottom six, Vladimir Sobotka and Berglund know each other well from their time in St. Louis, and that familiarity could equal success as the Sabes try to roll out three competitive lines and get secondary scoring on a near nightly basis. Kyle Okposo would provide some depth as well.
Rounding out the bottom six, Scott Wilson is back, as is Girgensons and Jason Pominville. They’re not going to log the big minutes but maybe they find a way to make their minutes matter when they hit the ice.
Marco Scandella-Zach Bogosian
Rasmus Dahlin-Rasmus Ristolainen
Brendan Guhle-Jake McCabe