Chris Stewart is pretty optimistic about Buffalo’s chances in 2014-15. Coming off of a 2013-14 season that saw the Sabres win just 21 games, the Sabres are desperately trying to climb out of the NHL’s basement. Most fans and experts agree that the club should be improved this season, but will they make the playoffs? It’s a debatable point, but Stewart is convinced that the Sabres are playoff bound.
Here’s what Stewart had to tell NHL.com:
“I think on paper right now there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re a playoff-bound team. We have some good players who are ready to take a step in the right direction and start leading. I think July 1st we took a big leap in the right direction and I think we’ll be a team that definitely surprises some teams next year.”
For the record, we have no idea what Stewart was on when they took this quote.
In all seriousness, he’s correct in the fact that the Sabres have a lot of young talent. Most of that talent is unproven, but it’s talent. He’s also accurate with his assertion that the Sabres may surprise some people. Individuals expecting the Sabres to mimic their horrific 2013-14 will be surprised to see the club more competitive on a regular basis.
But playoffs? The Sabres finished 41 points out of a Wild Card spot last season. They trailed the 29th team in the NHL (the Florida Panthers) by 14 points. They’ve added several pieces this summer, but they all fall into the “depth” category. You can find holes all over the roster and the team’s goaltending duo (Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth) isn’t one many people would gamble on comfortably.
The Sabres may have been historically bad last year, but even a huge improvement should leave the Sabres well outside of the playoff picture. It’s good to see a player who is confident in his team, but Stewart could have easily elected to say he thinks the Sabres will take the next step forward without making a claim most will find nonsensical.