Ryan McLeod knows how hard it is to get into and through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After a run to the Cup Final with the Edmonton Oilers last season, he hopes to bring the lessons learned to the Buffalo Sabres.

The 24-year-old forward came to the Sabres with forward Ty Tullio in a trade with the Oilers for forward prospect Matt Savoie on Friday.

“It’s tough to win,” McLeod said Wednesday. “You kind of learn that. Obviously, it’s tough to make the playoffs, especially win each round; it’s really tough and it gets harder every time. So, just kind of how much it takes, how hard it is.

“I think the biggest thing that we did in Edmonton is we tried to keep our confidence as high as we could. We were trying to make plays through the whole playoffs. And I think I could try to bring that into next season more.”

Buffalo has missed the playoffs for an NHL-record 13 straight seasons. Two seasons ago, in 2022-23, it came the closest it's been to ending the drought when it finished one point behind the Florida Panthers for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.

That raised expectations heading into last season, but the Sabres struggled to meet them; they finished 39-37-6, sixth in the Atlantic Division, with seven fewer points than the previous season. They fired coach Don Granato on April 16 and hired Lindy Ruff, who was coach the last time they made the playoffs in 2011, to replace him six days later.

Edmonton finished second in the Pacific Division last season and qualified for the postseason in each of McLeod’s four seasons with the Oilers. Before the run to the Cup Final, a seven-game loss to Florida, Edmonton advanced beyond the second round only once since its last championship in 2006, reaching the Western Conference Final in 2021-22.

“It’s a tough league to win in," McLeod said, "and the margin of error is so small that those little things really do matter. And over 82 games, if you do it the right way, it’s going to balance out.”

Buffalo has reshaped its roster in a bid to get the Sabres back into the postseason. In addition to acquiring McLeod, the Sabres signed free agent forwards Jason Zucker, Sam Lafferty and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and acquired forward Beck Malenstyn in a trade with the Washington Capitals. Each adds speed and grit to the lineup, part of the Sabres' plan to be harder to play against.

McLeod was partaking in photos at a friend’s wedding when he got the call informing him he’d been traded. He said he wasn't expecting to be traded, but is eager to join Buffalo, where he potentially will slot in at center on the third line.

“A lot of skill on that team,” he said. “A lot of skill on the back end, too, which it’s going to be fun to play with that. A lot of good puck movers and guys who can skate. Just kind of seeing where I can fit in. They’re a younger team, obviously, than Edmonton. It’s super exciting. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

McLeod had a career-high 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 81 games last season and four goals in 24 playoff games. Selected by the Oilers in the second round (No. 40) of the 2018 NHL Draft, he has 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists) in 219 regular-season games and 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 56 postseason games.

He’s working on improving his offense, trying to shoot the puck more and get to the net more often.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” McLeod said. “I think they have a great group there. It seems like they have a bunch of great guys too. So, I’m excited to get down there and meet everyone.”

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