26 Aug Offseason Fantasy Quick Hits: Atlantic Division – Buffalo Sabres
Got: Kyle Okposo, Dmitry Kulikov, Anders Nilsson
Lost: Mark Pysyk, David Legwand, Carlo Colaicovo, Chad Johnson
The Sabres are an up and coming team. For this upcoming year there are only 6 players worth owning in one-year fantasy leagues, so I might as well just discuss them.
Ryan O’Reilly – Put up 60 points in 71 games in his first season as a Sabre. He is the Sabres #1 centre and will be seeing prime ice time during a season where he is 25 years old. I think this is a prime year to own him, so I’m buying. If you need points, O’Reilly is a valid source for it, but he puts up low penalty minutes, shots on goal and won’t have a great +/- in leagues which count these stats. Still I think he can put up 70 points this year over a full 82 game season, but seeing he may get tougher defensive assignments than the Eichel line, I’d probably lower the number slightly.
Jack Eichel – The talent is real, and Eichel had a pretty great 2nd half to last year. After putting up 56 points as a rookie, the sky is the limit for this kid. I think he could put up 70 as early as this year, but will be more conservative and guess he totals 30 goals and 65 points in his sophomore year. Eichel is definitely someone I’d target drafting around rounds 5-7 of my draft. It wouldn’t shock me if he sophomore slumped and put up 50 points, but at the same time, it wouldn’t shock me if he broke out and put up 80 this year. The kid is that good and he’s definitely worth picking.
Kyle Okposo – He’s put up impressive numbers three years in a row now. He’s a tough one to gauge in fantasy this year. Maybe he clicks with O’Reilly or Eichel and puts up 80 points on the wing, playing top powerplay minutes and putting up elite numbers. Maybe he struggles to find a fit with his new team, and regresses to a 50 point season. I am not sure which one to think, but for now I’ll guess that he remains status quo to the past 3 years and averages just under a point per game. I’d treat him as a 65 point winger for now.
Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen are the future in Buffalo.
Sam Reinhart – He’s entering his 2nd full NHL season. He was picked 2nd overall 3 drafts ago. His talent and potential is skyhigh, and even though he will likely be on the wing this year, he may have both centre and winger elgibility in fantasy leagues. He’s a young guy who wouldn’t surprise me if he had a bit of a sophomore slump this year, but like Eichel, also wouldn’t surprise me if he exploded for 70 points because the talent is there. I’d pick him in the late rounds of the draft as a guy who will likely put up 50 this year but could put up 40 or 70 depending on how his season progresses.
Rasmus Ristolainen – The Sabres only d-man worth owning in fantasy, the former first round pick broke out in a big way last year by putting up 41 points over a full season. This guy proved he belongs in the show and I like him to set new career highs this year as the Sabres will be utilizing him heavily and in all situations. 10-15 goals and 50 points (many of them powerplay) is definitely not out of the question. He is definitely a guy to target.
Tyler Ennis – He’s 5 foot 9 and 160 pounds and already 26 years old. He hasn’t put up more than 49 points and that was already 5 years ago. But the talent is undeniable with this guy, and he has proven he can put up 20 goals and 45 points more than once. These were on some pretty awful Sabres teams too. If he finds himself playing full time on one of the top two lines I could see him making the jump to 55 or even 60 points this year. He’s definitely one of those last round gamble guys you can draft if you are in a deep league.
Other than that, I’d probably stay away from the Sabres this year. Evander Kane is as talented as he is dumb. I’ve been pretty high on him in the past, but after last year’s disappointing season both on and off the ice, hes not draftable for me – a watch list guy at best.
Buffalo has a really deep and talented prospect pool, headed by Alex Nylander, although I don’t think any will have a serious fantasy impact in the 2016-2017 season.
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Thanks for reading!!!