The Buffalo Sabres preseason is underway and the regular season is less than one week away. Heading into this year it’s playoffs or bust for most fans, but is the roster talented enough for the Sabres to end its five year playoff drought?
As the regular season draws near, 7ABC will take a closer look at the training camp roster and put together our list of the “Top 20 Talents.”
Here’s the criteria on how the rankings will be established:
-Overall skill level
-Age, improving/declining ability
On to the countdown:
No. 8 D Jake McCabe
Why he’s here
In 2015 Jake McCabe gave Sabres fans plenty of reasons to be excited. He was one of Buffalo’s most consistent defenders in the Sabres own end, and rarely made big mistakes. It’s not easy to make the jump into the NHL as a defenseman but McCabe handled everything exceptionally well. This year, the 22-year-old defender says he’s going into the season focused on one thing – making the playoffs.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) September 22, 2016
From the time training camp opened Jake McCabe has been one of the Sabres best players. Sabres Coach Dan Bylsma said its obvious how much work McCabe put in this summer, and anyone who watched practice could see that firsthand. During the second day of practice McCabe showed up with a bang, quite literally. He was paired against forwards during a one-on-one zone entry drill. The first matchup was against 6’3” Justin Bailey. McCabe plastered Bailey against the boards, throwing him to the ground. McCabe managed to do basically the same thing during every matchup. Only Hudson Fasching was able to get by McCabe, but just barely. After this drill, McCabe worked on his shot from the point for about 15 minutes. In 2015 McCabe only had 14 points in 77 games. This season, I expect that number to increase, and so does Bylsma. McCabe has the talent to jump into the rush and contribute offensively. Last season, as a rookie, McCabe admittedly played a little cautious, but it worked -- he finished the season with a +6 +/-.
McCabe is a rising star. In a few years he should be the Sabres second best defenseman and will likely be signing a new, long-term contract. In 2016 I’d like to see McCabe contribute more offensively, but he doesn’t need to put up huge numbers for the season to be considered a step in the right direction. McCabe’s best season came with the Rochester Americans in 2014 finishing with 29 points in 57 games. If this year he stays healthy and finished with 29 points, Sabres fans should be thrilled. He’s solid in his own end, that will always be his bread and butter, but a few more points would be nice. Regardless, McCabe looks like he’s about to have a really solid year, and Sabres fans should be excited to watch him grow as a player.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) September 28, 2016
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