What happens during offseason can alter the betting odds for teams involved. Hockey is no different, so let's investigate the details for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season (52) but have spent the offseason retooling. Actually, they’ve been retooling since the 2013 trade deadline. They capped it off by extending center Tyler Ennis to a five-year contract. Here’s the skinny on that news and how to bet it.
Sabres Re-Sign Ennis On The Cheap
The Sabres inked Ennis to a reported five-year, $23 million contract and there’s two sides to that coin. Some people making sports picks may believe that Ennis hasn’t developed as expected and the 24-year-old probably wasn’t worth the money until he proved more. After all, he averaged 0.71 points per game in 2011-12, 0.66 points per game in 2012-13 and then dropped to 0.54 points per game last season. That’s not the trajectory that Sabres fans were hoping for from the 24-year-old former first-round pick.
The other side of the coin suggest the Sabres got a decent deal. He’s still just 24 and hasn’t been surrounded by too many quality players. If the Sabres get him some help, maybe he’ll turn into the top-line center they believe he can be. And even though his points per game are a tad sluggish, he did lead the team with 21 goals last season, as those who backed them with NHL picks remember. There’s no question that the Sabres expect more from him. At the same time, there’s good reason to believe he’s a top-six forward, which means $4.6 M is a fair price for him.
Ennis Caps Off Sabres Renovations
Although extending Ennis was a priority for management, it was one of the final moves they’ll make this offseason after a slew of additions. The Sabres also re-signed Matt Moulson, acquired defenseman Josh Gorges and brought in veteran forwards Brian Gionta and Andrej Meszaros. The main subtraction was defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who won’t be missed after completely mailing it in last season.
When you combine a solid draft for the Sabres with No. 2 overall pick Sam Reinhart, this team is heading in the right direction. A young core of forwards is in place with Moulson, Ennis, Cody Hodgson, Chris Stewart, Drew Stafford. Add in the leadership of Gionta – something this team was sorely missing – and the Sabres should be quite competent offensively.
How To Bet The News
Saying that the Sabres are heading in the right direction in some ways isn’t even a complement because they were the worst team in the league. However, they do look like they’ll be far more competent in 2014-15.
For starters, consider betting their overs to start the season. They definitely have enough scoring to do better than the 157 goals they scored last year (1.91 per game). I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in the top-15.
Their defense also looks much stronger as Tyler Mylers is the anchor but he finally has some help from some savvy veterans like Gorges and Meszaros. If Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth proves to be the least bit serviceable in net, this team will have a fringe shot at making the playoffs.
It’s safe to say that this team is no longer the worst team in the NHL. They’re the longest shot of any team to win the Cup at 75/1 NHL betting odds but don’t be surprised if this team contends for a playoff spot. They should finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 8th (if everything goes right) to 12th in the East next season.