Photo by Scott Swenson WIVB
By Brandon J. Koch
It’s finally over.
The worst season in franchise history is over.
What a long, dragged out nightmare that was the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres.
Now, a long offseason begins with more questions than answers.
- What Ryan O’Reilly said at locker clean out day is a head scratcher, but he’s being honest. He said there were times throughout the season where he lost the love of the game and has to be mentally tougher. That’s what I want from athletes, honesty, not being robots. The thing is with ROR, is, did he lose the love of the game when those checks are coming in? That’s what has me shaking my head.
- The number one question right now is about O’Reilly’s future here. Now I don’t want to spend another 10 thoughts piece focusing on the Sabres center, but come on. Is a change of scenery the best option for O’Reilly? Right now, I think so. He’s a good player, I’d be fine with him staying here…but I want the second highest paid player in Sabres history to get his act together. I’m fed up of hearing how he has to be better after games. Get it together.
- Five points in six games for Casey Mittelstadt. It looks like he belongs in the NHL. The 2017 1st round pick now has a whole offseason to get bigger, stronger and take that next step in his rookie season. I’m excited about him.
- Brendan Guhle is another bright spot. The way he skates, his vision in passing the puck has me thinking of him and Casey Nelson as a nice pairing on that blue line. While he won’t average 10 goals per season in his career, he will be an all around solid defenseman.
- Alex Nylander is a wildcard for me. It was great that he scored his first NHL goal, but he was mainly unnoticeable on the ice. He’s 19, so I’m going to continue to be patient. There’s still a lot of development that has to be done. Patience, patience, patience.
- Listening to Josh Gorges on the postgame Saturday night has me thinking differently on the defenseman. The past couple seasons I haven’t been his biggest fan. While he was a leader, it seems like the game has passed him on. True professional, wish him the best.
- Anything more than a 3-year bridge deal for Sam Reinhart would be foolish. He had a great second half to this season, but if I’m Botterill, I need to see more. Reinhart needs to show that consistency throughout a full season.
- Kyle Okposo had an up and down year, I expect him to come back in September ready to go. I believe he will come back next season and be the player he was signed to be.
- Jason Botterill has a lot on his plate. He took on a mess, tried to quick fix it and that didn’t work. I believe this GM will get it right.
- Are we done with Nathan Beaulieu?