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JW: The Sabres Model

Jeremy White

This column was written back in May of 2014.  The Pittsburgh Penguins fired their GM and Coach after it was written.  The Sabres are now in the market for a coach and Bylsma might be the man they pick.

What might be different for Bylsma this time around?  This piece gives a good look.


With the NHL Entry Draft a little more than a month away, the Buffalo Sabres are set to enter Phase Two of the franchise rebuild.  We often hear of the Pittsburgh model with high draft picks, but the Sabres should want to be better.  They’re lining up to do just that.



This is what the Buffalo Sabres sent out to season ticket holders a few weeks ago.  It’s a nice touch to show your fans what it is you plan to do with the worst team in the NHL.  


If you listen to me and my endless ranting, you’ll know that for me it’s all about the high picks.  The Sabres have one coming, and hopefully with another terrible season next year, they can lock in another Top 2 pick.


This is usually where I’ll get a "what about Edmonton" or something along those lines.  Let’s take a look at Pittsburgh instead, and how the Sabres will hope to be better than the Penguins in the long run. 

The Penguins already have one Stanley Cup with this group but they’re largely considered to be a huge disappointment, and with good reason.*


*Pittsburgh still can and likely will win another Stanley Cup or three if they make the right moves.  They’re by no means a broken franchise.  They have Crosby and Malkin and that’s enough to make them good for ten more years which is why you should want to pick at the top.  They’ll need a new goalie, likely a new coach, and possibly a new GM.  Elite players win, and Pittsburgh will win a lot more.  That said…here’s how the Sabres will be different.




Seventeen first and second round picks in a four year stretch is stupid.  It’s unbelievable.  The Sabres will have a few high picks (at least one this year, and next year's first and the Islanders scenario could each play out quite favorably), but they’ll also have the ability to fill in behind those players like no other team has before.  They have FIVE more than the next closest team.  


Stockpiling picks….hoarding picks…should create one of the deepest franchises in all of hockey.  Be on the lookout for Ken Campbell of the Hockey News. He has a piece in the upcoming draft preview where he lays out how the Sabres should be a dominant franchise in 2020.  Does it have to take that long?  Absolutely not.

Look carefully at this chart the Sabres included as part of the plan.  The blue represents the number of 30 goal scorers in the league post-lockout (of 2004-05).  What you see is that the league is moving toward an era where young players contribute greatly.  18 and 19 year-old players are putting up big numbers.  We watched Nathan MacKinnon tear up the first round of the playoffs and we should expect more and more of that.  The Sabres will be "dominant" in the eyes of Ken Campbell by 2020...but they might be a ton of fun by 2015, or 2017.  This team should be stocked with elite talent.


It’s no secret how the Penguins got to be a “model franchise” in the NHL.  So why do they continue to underachieve?  Consider the haul the Sabres will have to support their early picks, and then consider what Pittsburgh has done in the last 7 years of the draft.


Since drafting Jordan Staal in the 2006 Entry Draft the Penguins have been a bit of a mess in the draft.


2007    - 1st and 2nd round picks fail to ever make the NHL

2008    - No picks in rounds 1, 2, or 3

2009    - First round pick Simon Despres (likely should be with team, rather than NHL)

    - Second round pick Phillip Samuelsson has played 5 NHL Games to this point

2010    - Beau Bennett looks like a good young player

    - No 2nd round pick

2011    - 1st and 2nd round pick yet to see NHL action (Young players, nothing on them, just on team contribution to this point)

2012    - They had 2 1sts (both these players obv very young and Olli Maata looks very good)

2013    - No 1st round pick.


The Sabres will have SEVENTEEN first and second round picks to supplement their roster in just a four year stretch.  The Pittsburgh Penguins in a seven year stretch had just eleven.


This Sabres rebuild stretch of four drafts, will feature eight first round picks.  The Penguins had a four year stretch from 2007-2011 with a total of FIVE firsts and seconds combined.


I know…their picks have been lower (that’s why it’s great the Sabres have high picks)

I know…they’ve traded away picks for players like Iginla, etc (high price rental costs have to be paid eventually)


Don’t let anyone convince you that Malkin and Crosby aren’t great.  Crosby is the league’s best player and it’s still not close.  He could use a bit of help.  The Penguins franchise has not done enough with the world’s best player, and another that’s in the top 10 (or 5 depending what day it is or who you ask).


Pittsburgh is in great shape because in half of their horrible seasons they came away with great players.  Crosby and Malkin get them a lot of wins.  There are plenty of you that tell me that it takes more than just great players to build a true dynasty.


I’m still not so sure I believe that, but we can agree that it takes more than what the Penguins have done…and I’d say there’s a good indication the Sabres think so too.


05/26/2015 6:28AM
JW: The Sabres Model
Please enter your comments below.
05/26/2015 7:17AM
Sabres model
What model? The Sabres haven't built anything here in years,17 high picks & what do they have to show for it????It's only the last 2yrs. that they've had a top two pick and last year we may have picked the wrong Sam!This year they havea can't miss pick in Jack Eichel,and they can build around him if they use the rest of their picks wisely.
05/26/2015 7:40AM
As long as they pick players that can win in this league.
Rebuilding is one thing but to waste any pick on a guess. can be costly. We need players who will bring leadership to this team. We also need a coach that is going to shake up these players mind. So they can forget about the past and start winning right now and for the future. I mean with all these pick they got their no way in hell they should be going backward every year. But we all know it really going to start with the players and that locker room. Some how they got to remove this black cloud that been over their head. that's been their way to dam long but for me just them getting back to winning more games than losing more games. will be a great start. and that's why hiring the next coach is so important now than ever. How do we expected them to win anything when dam near almost every 2 or 3 years they got a new coach. Please lets just get this right this time. I would like to see the sabres and the bills when it all. before I past away for lol. lets go ruff buff.
05/26/2015 8:39AM
I am Jeremy and I am Always right
Do not need to hear you pat yourself on the back for being wrong all the time.Something new and fresh
05/26/2015 9:42AM
Yes you are ...
trying to pat yourself on the back. Don't hurt your arm.
05/26/2015 12:12PM
Re: Sabres model
LOL What??? "17 high picks & what did they do with them".. What? LOL Those are FUTURE picks! How can you ask what did they do with them when it hasn't even happened yet? LOL
05/26/2015 1:58PM
I was looking for video's
Did I not read that Eichel went golfing? Where is the breakdown -foward, extend, feet straight..........yes. Now--all we need is about 20 video clips to review over and over and over........
05/26/2015 2:19PM
The Sabres will have SEVENTEEN first and second round picks in just 4 years.
The most of any team in the last 30 years! THANK YOU DARCY!!!
05/26/2015 2:26PM
Bylsma = Eichel plays here
Conversely no Bylsma = Eichel does not play here...ever. Look the best teams hire coaches that have done this before. The last 5 and this year likely 6 cup winners have head coaches that have done this dance before. There really is not much of a choice here. They NEED to hire Dan Bylsma. Eichel will not play for Luke Richardson. Ever. Eichel knows that Bylsma can build a winner here and that Is the only coach he will play for unless of course they hire his college coach to be the head coach here. However we all know that will not happen so the success now and in the future is tied to Bylsma. Hiring a first time, green horn, unproven mediocrity would be an incredibly uninspiring hire that will lead to the permanent failure of a faltering franchise because there will be no Eichel or any superstar for that matter on the horizon. Might as well sell the team and move it out of town and implode the harbor center if that comes to fruition.
05/26/2015 2:31PM
When the team decides what to do with its own media production
You will be a fine addition to their team.
05/26/2015 3:22PM
Nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back...
...when you deserve it. And so far, you do. So Good Job!
05/26/2015 4:05PM
Sabres Model
Tank 2015-16 to make it three years in a row. That's the plan? Then what? More Call it like Rick Winner expressions? More 'GR drivel on the AM Show? More Walmart man?
05/26/2015 5:54PM
No to Bylsma
yes he has a cup, but its because of what he walked into. They went down hill after that. He couldn't coach the 2014 Olympic team, all that talent. They had Zero goals in they're last 2 games! No thanks
05/26/2015 6:38PM
I request this article be posted again so people can really see what's going on, and why Bylsma might be a good coach who had his GM take everything from him, or not give him anything at all...and people STILL cannot find the meaning behind ANY of this? My mind is blown. Thanks, Jeremy...sorry to see this negative bs.
05/27/2015 4:02PM
This year is going to be a lot of fun.. Bylsma or no
Thanks for this article! Lot's of really good information.. its too bad a lot of fans can't get the taste of losing out of their mouths to say something positive. My prediction? This year is going to be awesome to watch, Bylsma or no.. the coach does matter for sure, but there is no sense in trying to get fixated on one guy or another when the team we will have is going to take some time to develop.
05/28/2015 9:26AM
Re;Sabres model
Read the article dumb bell!"SEVENTEEN picks over a 4 yr. span!"You must be a 12yr. old!Stay on your Face Book page!
05/28/2015 4:30PM
Call the whiner line you guys that hate on this info.... JW -Keep this kind of thing coming my man!!!! Great job!! So pumped for the future of Buffalo Sports!!! Go Sabers!!!!! go Bills!!!!!!
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