The Buffalo Sabres are a team that has struggled for quite some time, but this offseason is undoubtedly the lowest point they have found themselves in.
It started almost immediately after the season when Jack Eichel made comments in his end of the year media availability which seemed to suggest he wanted to be traded. That has since been confirmed and has gotten very ugly. The 24-year-old wants surgery done to correct his neck injury, but the team thinks it is too risky. As a result, Eichel remains injured and will not be able to play until he has the procedure done. Whenever he does finally play, it will almost certainly be in a different uniform, though the Sabres have not been able to find a trading partner yet.
Given the big distraction this has caused, along with the fact he won’t be able to play anyway, Elliotte Friedman wrote in his ’32 thoughts’ blog that the Sabres were expected to strip Eichel of his captaincy. On Thursday morning, that rumor became official news. GM Kevyn Adams address the media and said that Eichel failed his physical and that surgery is required. Unfortunately, Eichel will not accept Sabres’ desire for fusion surgery. He adds:
“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres. From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”
It likely won’t matter to Eichel, as he clearly wants a change of scenery, but it has resulted in even more negative headlines involving the team.
Rasmus Dahlin Signs Extension
Thankfully, Sabres fans were able to finally get some good news on Wednesday, as the team announced that they have signed defenceman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million extension.
The 21-year-old has had his ups and downs since being taken first overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, though that likely has more to do with the environment he has been thrown into more so than a reflection of himself. The young Swede is extremely talented, and really showed his potential during the 2019-20 season when he recorded nine goals and 40 points in 59 games.
Unfortunately for Dahlin, he struggled in 2020-21, as did the rest of his team. In 56 games, he scored five goals and 23 points but had a disastrous plus/minus rating of minus36. It would be interesting to see what type of player he would be if he was put into a better situation. The good news for him is that he didn’t sign long-term, meaning he may be able to re-evaluate his options in three years if the team is still struggling.
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