The first two games on this five game road trip for the Buffalo Sabres might have been huge in the race for the top draft pick had the Sabres not gone on a prolonged skid this month.
Buffalo plays at 26th place Calgary tonight and then visits 29th place Edmonton on Thursday but the Sabres are a near lock to pick no worse than second in the draft thanks in part to their current six game losing streak. According to sportsclubstats.com, the Sabres have a 99% chance of finishing dead last.
Buffalo's 46 points are 11 behind the Oilers, 12 in back of 28th place Florida and 15 away from the Flames and New York Islanders. Should the Sabres end up last, they are guaranteed either the first or second selection pending the results of the lottery.
Just how bad has this season been for the Blue and Gold? They are on pace to finish with 55 points which would be the second lowest total(non lockout seasons) in franchise history. Only the 1971-72 Sabres, in their second year of existence, were worse as they ended up with 51 points. Keep in mind the NHL played only 78 games back then and of course there were no shootout wins.
The 55 points would be the worst for an NHL team since Atlanta had 54 in their third season back in 01-02.
This Sabres team will go down as one of the most offensively challenged as well. Buffalo is on pace for 159 goals scored which would shatter the franchise record for fewest goals in a season. It was 190 from the 2002-2003 squad. It would also be the lowest number of goals scored by an NHL team since Tampa managed 151 some 16 years ago.
One other note about the draft. Make sure you keep an eye on the Islanders since the Sabres might end up with their first round pick thanks to the Thomas Vanek trade. If its a top ten selection, the Islanders have the right to defer the pick to 2015 but Isles GM Garth Snow has said he thinks the 2015 draft class is better than this year's group so he might ship the 2014 pick to the Sabres even if it is in the top five. The Islanders are tied for fourth worst with Calgary.
As far as the Islanders remaining schedule, they have two games each with Ottawa, Columbus and New Jersey. They also play Minnesota, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida, Washington, Montreal and interestingly enough, close the regular season facing the Sabres at First Niagara Center.