Players to watch: Lightning at Sabres (Nov. 17)

Players to watch: Lightning at Sabres (Nov. 17)
Posted at 11:47 AM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 11:47:19-05

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t won a game since November 5, and are looking to snap a five game losing streak. Thursday the Sabres will play only their seventh game of the season in Buffalo, taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The matchup is the first of four consecutive home games for the Sabres at KeyBank Center. The Lightning will be without Steven Stamkos, arguably their best player, after he suffered a lateral meniscus tear earlier in the weak.

Players to watch in Thurdsay’s matchup:

Taylor Fedun

The rotation of Sabres skates continues once again! Thursday, Fedun will make his 2016 NHL debut after being recalled from Rochester (AHL). In 14 games with the Rochester Americans Fedun has 12 points (2G, 10A) with a minus-2 rating. Those are very impressive numbers for a defenseman, but they aren't necessarily suprinsing. In each of Fedun's last three season in the AHL he has registered more than 30 points. During that stretch the 28-year-old defenseman has played only a handful of games in the NHL with mulitple teams. Fedun will replace Casey Nelson, who was sent back to Rochester after Buffalo's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. 

Evander Kane
Kane needs to start making plays and help this team score.  The Sabres desperately need goals, and Kane should be one of the guys who scores 20 by the end of the season. 

In his four games since returning from injury, Kane has yet to register a point and has taken four penalties. He's still recovering from the cracked ribs he suffered in the season opener and isn’t 100-percent. However, he needs to start positively contributing to this team and scoring goals.

A lot of people on Twitter have been talking about trade possibilities with Kane, but I just don’t see that happening. He’ll never get the return Sabres fans are hoping for and is still too good and too talented to give away for ‘nothing’.

Nikita Kucherov
In 16 games Kucherov has 21 points (8G, 13A). Buffalo’s leading scorer (Kyle Okposo) has less than half with ten points, and I’d say Okposo has looked pretty good.

Losing Stamkos is a devastating blow to Tampa Bay, but Kucherov is a talented player in his own right and will continue to put up impressive numbers. Kucherov is still only 23-years-old and signed a three-year-contract extension with the team before the season, so get used to seeing him in the division.

It is mind boggling that Kucherov agreed to a deal worth $4.766 million annually -- but he did, and is proving to be one of the best values in the NHL. 

Sam Reinhart
Reinhart scored in the Sabres 4-1 loss to the Blues Tuesday night, which is very good news for the Sabres. Even with his recent goal, Reinhart still only has three on the season, along with four assists. Reinhart is currently on pace for 35 points, seven less than he had last season. 

I’ve liked Reinhart’s game for the most part and think he almost always makes the right play with the puck on his stick – but he needs to contribute more offensively without a player like Jack Eichel in the lineup. I do expect Reinhart to pick up the scoring eventually, but with the Sabres goal scoring woes it would be huge if he could do that sooner rather than later. Reinhart has been moved all over the place in Buffalo’s first 16 games but when he is finally put on a line and stays there consistently he’ll once again to prove to be the magician he is with the puck. 

Follow Matt Bove on Twitter!