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2015 NHL Draft
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Lehner, Kane questions key to Sabres success

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are expecting a lot from their prospects, including No. 2 picks Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, heading into this season.

But contributions from young veterans Robin Lehner and Evander Kane will have as much impact on their possible success.

Here are the three biggest questions facing the Sabres heading into the season:

Can Robin Lehner be a No. 1 goalie? Lehner spent his first five full seasons as a professional either in the American Hockey League, injured or backing up Craig Anderson with the Ottawa Senators. Now he's expected to take the Sabres' starting job.

Bylsma as coach gives Sabres reason for optimism

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- As the Buffalo Sabres head into the 2015-2016 season, there's a different feeling around the organization.

The past two seasons, the worst in Sabres history, marked an especially low point. But Buffalo selected Jack Eichel with the No. 2 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft and acquired center Ryan O'Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche and goalie Robin Lehner from the Ottawa Senators during the offseason.

The Sabres hope the days of rebuilding are over and they can focus of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011.

"There's a lot of great players in this organization right now," Eichel said in early July. "I think that's why everyone in Buffalo is excited about the future of this team. [The Sabres have] a lot of good pieces, and I think now we all have to just put it together and start having success. I think that's what people want to see and that's what everyone wants. The organization has done a really good job of acquiring good players and developing young guys. It's a really bright future in this city."

Eichel, Reinhart among Sabres' top five prospects

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It's only a matter of time before the Buffalo Sabres' top prospects make an impact in the NHL. That time may come this season.

The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history. A byproduct has been the ability to stockpile young talent, including forward Zemgus Girgensons, who was voted to the NHL All-Star Game last season, and Rasmus Ristolainen, who became one of Buffalo's top four defensemen.

Three prospects might be in the opening night lineup Oct. 8 against the Ottawa Senators, and two others are set to play their first season of pro hockey coming out of the Ontario Hockey League.

Revamped Sabres set to start climbing standings

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

BUFFALO -- Things are about to change for the better for the Buffalo Sabres.

The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history, so it'd be easy to say things can't get worse, but the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel, has changed the attitude here.

Eichel's arrival, coupled with the eventual debut of forward Evander Kane, who didn't play for the Sabres after he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11 (shoulder surgery); center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26; and coach Dan Bylsma, has the Buffalo fan base hopeful the organizational rebuild will bring results on the ice.

The Sabres will have a young and talented group of forwards to try to lift an offense that scored an NHL-low 158 goals last season. The addition of Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly to Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons gives Buffalo a youthful core. If Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, makes the roster, it would make the Sabres that much younger and add another potential scorer.

Buffalo Sabres fantasy hockey outlook

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvauled player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Evander Kane

Kane ranks as my highest Sabres player in my offseason fantasy rankings (No. 80 overall) and a change of scenery could do wonders for this talented power forward. Since joining the NHL in 2009, only three other active players have totaled at least 100 goals, 100 assists, 350 penalty minutes and 1,200 shots on goal (Corey Perry, James Neal and Eric Staal). Keep in mind Kane has appeared in at least 42 fewer games than any of the other three. If Kane can stay healthy, he could be in line for a big fantasy season.

Undervalued: Tyler Ennis

Despite finishing last season with a minus-19 rating, Ennis still managed to post 20-plus goals and 40-plus points for the second consecutive season. He also closed out the season on a positive note with 13 points and an even rating in his final 17 games. With an improved rating and the fact he should be on the top line alongside Kane and Ryan O'Reilly, Ennis could be a solid fantasy contributor.

Playoff chances among questions facing Oilers

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- With all the changes the Edmonton Oilers made this offseason, there is plenty of uncertainty going into this season.

Reaction to the management shakeup following Edmonton's NHL Draft Lottery win was positive. Many believe the Oilers are heading in the right direction, but to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Oilers need to make up a lot of ground in what is again expected to be a very tough Western Conference.

The Oilers are not the only improved team in the conference, and selecting Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft will not guarantee success.

McDavid, Nurse among Oilers' top five prospects

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- By winning the NHL Draft Lottery, the Edmonton Oilers were able to select the best prospect available, center Connor McDavid.

By virtue of previous first-round picks, the Oilers have other talented players in their system. The hope is, in the near future, those prospects provide a strong supporting cast for McDavid and the other No. 1 picks already on the NHL roster.

Here is a look at the Oilers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

New leadership adds to Edmonton Oilers optimism

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- When the Edmonton Oilers ended another disappointing season in April, there was little reason for optimism heading toward the next one.

Despite three No. 1 draft picks in the lineup, the Oilers were unable to make headway in the standings and finished 13th in the Western Conference, six points ahead of the last-place Arizona Coyotes.

Edmonton missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, fired coach Dallas Eakins less than a year and a half into a four-year contract, and seemed a long way from respectability.

McDavid, McLellan lead Oilers' offseason overhaul

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers haven't been among the top NHL teams in recent years, but they are one of the most fortunate.

In April, the Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery for the fourth time in six years. The prize was Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, who is considered the best player to enter the League since Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby a decade ago.

McDavid fell into the Oilers' lap, and consequently expedited changes to the franchise, which has failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past nine seasons.

Edmonton Oilers fantasy hockey preview

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvauled player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Taylor Hall

Hall had arguably the least productive season of his five-year career in 2014-15 with 14 goals and 38 points in 53 games (.72 points/game). A shooting percentage of 8.9 percent could've had something to do with his low goal total, but health continues to be Hall's biggest question mark. If he can avoid injury, Hall has the potential to be one of the better fantasy performers of the future. With the possibility of playing on a line with rookie Connor McDavid and usual suspect Jordan Eberle, Hall should be in line for a big bounce-back season.

Undervalued: Jordan Eberle

Including his breakout 34-goal, 76-point season in 2011-12, Eberle has 241 points in 287 games (.84 points/game). Those 241 points are tied for 17th most in the NHL during that stretch, and Eberle has proven to be extremely durable as well, missing seven games. Let's also not forget he had 32 points in his final 32 games last season after a tough start. Target Eberle between rounds five and six with hopes he exceeds that draft position by the end of the season.

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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions