Welcome to another edition of Sabres Scoop, The Hockey Writers’ weekly column discussing all things Buffalo Sabres. This week, ‘Sabres Scoop’ co-hosts Jordan Jacklin and Brandon Seltenrich sound off on the conclusion of the preseason, the start of the regular season, and some of the other biggest storylines, news, and rumors about the organization.
The 2021-22 NHL regular season is just a few days away, and all 32 NHL teams are finalizing their rosters as they prepare to drop the puck on a new season. For the Buffalo Sabres, while the outlook on where they are likely to finish in the standings is bleak, it doesn’t mean there will be a lack of exciting and intriguing storylines to keep an eye on throughout the season. General manager (GM) Kevyn Adams has been busy re-assigning players to the Sabres’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Rochester Americans, the Sabres have had trouble selling tickets, players have been picked up and placed on waivers, and more. Check out our thoughts on these topics below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.
Sabres Re-Assign Several Players To AHL
The Sabres made a number of interesting transactions last week, including sending some intriguing players down to the AHL. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Oskari Laaksonen, Brett Murray, and Jack Quinn are just some of the players who had impressive training camps and preseasons, but didn’t quite make the cut. While the roster is finalized, some deserving players will miss being on the opening-night roster.
Jordan: I think most of these cuts made sense. Some might argue as to why Jack Quinn didn’t stay since he wasn’t necessarily bad, but I think you could tell by his 5v5 play that he wasn’t really ready, and I think it will be better for him to develop in the AHL. Guys like Murray definitely impressed, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get any time this year in a call-up. Luukkonen you’d have to think makes his way back up, since Dustin Tokarski and Craig Anderson make for a messy goaltending situation right now.
Brandon: The player who really surprised me the most was Brett Murray. I don’t know if this is a guy who has gone under the radar, but to me he certainly hasn’t. From the Prospects Challenge and on, he was scoring, driving plays, and while he might not be a guy who will score 30 goals and 60 points, he’s built like a power forward, and the Sabres need something like that right now. A close second for me would be Luukkonen, who I definitely thought was going to be on the opening night roster, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer for him.
Sabres Having Trouble Selling Tickets
The Sabres look to be having some trouble selling tickets, as a number of factors are making it extremely difficult for them to do that right now. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many in tough financial positions, cross-border travel restrictions, vaccination requirements to enter KeyBank Center, and the team’s sharp decline in season ticket holders due to their poor performance are all factors in this problem.
Jordan: You have to think based off the stats and the early sample size we have at the moment that the Sabres are going to be one of the worst teams in the league in terms of attendance. That doesn’t correspond with the fans – Buffalo has one of the best markets out there when they’re winning, probably in the top ten – but that just goes to show how bad the team has been. Fans aren’t dumb, and they know Jack Eichel isn’t going to be coming back, so the attendance isn’t going to be good this year with all the confusion going on.
Brandon: I know the situation is tough for all 32 teams right now, but for the Sabres, it’s really bad. The decline in full-season ticket holders that you see is really concerning, and at the end of the day, this loss of money will affect the ownership. And with this ownership, that might affect the moves that they’re able to make as far as free agent signings, big name players in trades, and possibly even the Jack Eichel situation. It’s really concerning how this situation with the ticket sales could affect the hockey side of things.
Jonsson-Fjallby Claimed Off Waivers
The Sabres claimed Axel Jonsson-Fjallby off waivers from the Washington Capitals last week. The 23-year-old forward scored 10 goals and 15 points in 31 games with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears last season (Note: this episode was recorded before the Sabres placed Jonsson-Fjallby on waivers, and he was reclaimed by the Capitals on Monday).
Jordan: You have to think he’s going to make the opening-night team, since he’d have to go on waivers ultimately if they wanted to send him down. You don’t typically claim a guy like this and then send him back down, because Washington would just reclaim him. And then it would just be a continuous loop at that point. I’ll admit I don’t know too much about him as a player, but he does intrigue me. I’ve heard he’s pretty good defensively, he’s a two-way guy, and with a team like Buffalo, you’ll get the chance to play your way up to a third line spot.
Brandon: I think he’s definitely going to make the opening night roster. Outside of Zemgus Girgensons, the Sabres’ bottom six has just been a revolving door of guys who haven’t quite seemed to fit with the Sabres, but I think Jonsson-Fjallby, as well as some other young players that they picked up, have a chance to change that and really make an impact at the NHL level, which could make for some exciting hockey to watch.
Lehner, Eichel, Price & More
Outside of the Sabres news and rumors, in our weekly video below, we touched on Robin Lehner’s series of tweets accusing NHL team doctors of giving players “under the table” painkillers, among other acts that he claims affects the health and careers of players around the NHL, and how similar comparisons could be drawn from Jack Eichel’s current medical situation. Carey Price voluntarily entered the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s Players Assistance Program, so we give our thoughts on his situation, and wrap up with some other general NHL news.
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Brandon is a Buffalo Sabres Contributor for THW and Co-Host of THW’s ‘Sabres Scoop,’ who received his Master of Science in Sport Administration from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, and founded his website, Seltytending, in 2017. He is an avid hockey writer and podcaster with prior work experience in the OJHL, NWHL, and NCAA. Twitter: @BSalts15