With no postseason action to look forward to, it is time to look back at the top Buffalo Sabres in the 2010s. I am going to dive into my top-five list, including a few honorable mentions. We all know who is No. 1, but let’s pretend it’s a surprise…
5. Tyler Myers
Myers was a specimen in the Sabres organization for his first six seasons of his career. At 6-foot-8 and 229 pounds, he was one of the most electric players of the decade. He kicked it off with a Calder Trophy season (top rookie) in 2009-10, where he tallied 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points, leading Buffalo to a division crown and playoff appearance. He was widely known as one of the best young defensemen in the league just one season in, but after the 2010-11 season, the Sabres struggled badly, and Myers became an easy target.
Both his numbers and growth declined, and the team started missing the playoffs. Since leaving Buffalo, he has had a steady career. It’s insane to think that he is in his 11th NHL season already.
4. Sam Reinhart
Jack Eichel. Sam Reinhart. Buddies. Linemates. Since Reinhart was taken second overall by the Sabres in 2014, he has grown into the top-six winger and leader that he is today. He was drafted as a center, but has become Eichel’s go-to guy for five years on the wing.
He’s potted 109 goals and dished out 146 assists for 255 points in his Buffalo career. After four-straight, 50-plus point seasons, Reinhart is due for a big-ticket contract this offseason.
3. Tyler Ennis
Who remembers Ennis’ Game 5 OT game-winner in Philadelphia back in 2011? He was a huge part of the Sabres’ short success in the 2010s. He played center, right wing, left wing, power play, penalty kill… literally everywhere he could as a forward.
In a little over seven full seasons during the decade, Ennis hit the 20-goal mark three times, and hovered around 40 points (give or take) for five-straight years to start the 2010s. He was a pure sniper with incredible hands, but ended up working his way out of the offense and future plans of the team in his last two seasons in Buffalo.
2. Ryan Miller
He’s been out of Buffalo since 2014, but I can still hear the voice of Rick Jeanneret yelling “Milleeeeeerrrrrrrr stops him cold!” Ryan Miller was one of the most loved players in Buffalo history. He only played in four seasons in the 2010s, but it was pure consistency.
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He kick-started the decade with his run in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, leading Team USA to a 5-0-1 record, with the only blemish coming from Sidney Crosby’s OT winner in the gold medal game. That performance came in the middle of a Vezina Trophy season, where he helped lead Buffalo to a division title, won 41 games, and ended the season with a 2.22 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
Miller straight-up stole games, especially in the playoffs. His two shutouts in one series against the Flyers in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go down as some of the best performances by a goalie in team history.
1. Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel is the no-brainer No. 1 choice here. No one has been hyped up since day one in the Sabres organization quite like Captain Jack. The team tanked for that franchise player, who most were hoping would be Connor McDavid. But when the Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, that coveted prize became Eichel for the Sabres.
In five seasons with the Sabres (354 games played), Eichel has put up huge numbers, totaling 137 goals and 200 assists for 337 points, including a career-high 36 goals in just 68 games this season. He has become the superstar that Buffalo always needed, and has proved to be a top player in the NHL at just 23 years old.
Honorable mentions (in no specific order): Jason Pominville, Rasmus Ristolainen, Drew Stafford, Evander Kane, Thomas Vanek, Ryan O’Reilly
Ranking Sabres players of the decade is tough with so much turnover in the 2010s, but we all know that the likes of Dahlin, Skinner, and company will be top stars of the 2020s. Leave your top-five list in the comments!
Alex is a contributing writer for the Buffalo Sabres at TheHockeyWriters.com. He is from Buffalo, and has worked for the NBA and PGA TOUR. Follow him on Twitter @AlexBusch93.