By finishing 30th last year, the Buffalo Sabres kicked off the next Oilers-style scorched earth rebuild. It comes complete with a fanboy billionaire owner and everything! This actually presents an interesting opportunity for Oilers fans.
The Sabres have decided to ice an - ahem - interesting roster this season, not unlike what we saw in Edmonton in 2010-11. They have players that are mostly either too young to be at their full potential, or too old to be around when Buffalo improves.
There's a key difference, too: Sam Reinhart (pictured above) was picked second overall last season, but he has recently been sent back to the WHL. It seems like an obvious move, given that Reinhart had just one assist in his nine game trial in Buffalo. But beyond that, it was smart to keep the player away from a losing atmosphere, to retain all the years of his Entry Level Contract, and to let Reinhart play in the World Juniors. This is a very different style than what the Oilers have used with their top picks.
To most observers, the Sabres are a lock for 30th again this season (but watch out for those pesky Oilers!). That will give them an excellent shot at grabbing Connor McDavid, who at the time of this writing has 42 points in just 14 games with the Erie Otters, and is already a plus-30 player.
So let's have a little fun. If we say that last season was year one of the Buffalo Sabres' rebuild, just as 2009-10 supposedly was for Edmonton, then let's count the seasons before each team makes the playoffs.
This is officially year six of the Edmonton Oilers' rebuild, and they're not going to be close to the playoffs. The Sabres won't be close this year either, but that still gives them at least four more seasons to pass Edmonton.
The question is: will the Sabres take fewer rebuild years to make the playoffs, or will they simply make the playoffs before the Oilers do?