Our NHL consultant analyzes why he likes the Buffalo Sabres as his best NHL pick for future betting in terms of going over their projected regular season points total.
The Magic Number
According to a consensus of current (10/1) NHL odds at numerous sportsbooks, the Buffalo Sabres regular season point total is set at 76.5. Go over the number comes at a money line price of -125, and an under bet at +105. Let me put that number into perspective. The Sabres have finished dead last in points earned during the past two NHL regular season campaigns, going a combined 44-102-18 in that stretch, and earning a total of 106 points. After disclosing those figures, logical thinking would indicate that the current number of 76.5 is absurd, and an under wager should be a no brainer. It’s never that easy, offshore sportsbooks and Las Vegas aren’t that generous.
Vast Roster Improvement
General Manager Tim Murray should be commended on how he has recently transformed the Sabres roster, and it commenced during last season’s trading deadline period. He was able to acquire a pair of young established veterans from the Winnipeg Jets. They sent Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford to the Jets in exchange for former Winnipeg first round draft choices Evander Kane and Zack Bogosian. Kane is a 24 year old who had 30 goals for the Jets back in the 2011-2012 campaign. Bogosian is a 6’3 and 225 pound defenseman who is skilled and physical. This past summer they also acquired young but established NHL talent like Ryan O’Reilly (24), Jamie McGinn (27), and goaltender Robin Lehner (24). Then just before training camp began Buffalo signed UFA veteran defensemen Cody Franson (28). Murray has stuck to his plan of using assets to acquire established young veterans, and speed up the rebuilding process.
Highly Prized Rookies
Buffalo possessed the #2 overall pick in each of the last two NHL entry drafts. In 2014 they drafted highly touted center Sam Reinhart. He made the team out of training camp, but Buffalo opted to send him back to his WHL Junior A team after just ten games. This upcoming season is still considered Reinhart’s rookie campaign. He was an integral part of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship winning team last December. Reinhart has 4 assists in three preseason games with the Sabres at the time of this writing.
The big catch came this past July when they drafted 18 year old Jack Eichel, projected as a generational type player. Eichel was the 2015 Hobey Baker winner as a frosh at Boston University. He led his team to the NCAA championship game where they fell short against Providence. Eichel finished his only college season with 26 goals, 45 assists, and 71 points in only 40 games. He spent the previous two seasons as a member of the USA development team, and had a combined 139 points in 111 games. At the time of this writing, Eichel had 3 goals and 2 assists in three preseason games with Buffalo.
New Head Coach
Murray was able to entice former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma to take over behind the bench in Buffalo. The Penguins captured the 20,09 Stanley Cup in Bylsma’s first year. He won the 2011 Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year. The Penguins had 101 points or more in Bylsma’s last five seasons as their head coach. The lone exception came in the 2012-2013 strike shortened season that saw Pittsburgh go 36-12, and finish first overall in the Eastern Conference. His six year regular season record with Pittsburgh was 252-117-4, and also had a postseason mark of 43-35. He was fired after Pittsburgh was eliminated during the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It wouldn’t shock me at all if Buffalo enters April with a realistic chance of making the playoffs. Even if that’s not the case, attaining 77 points or more for Buffalo will be one of my early NHL picks.
NHL Picks: Sabres over 76.5 (-125) at Bet365