Stanley Cup Appearances: 2 Last Appearance: 1999 ( Lost in 6 to Dallas Stars)
If you were to have made this list just a year ago today, the Sabres would have been nowhere to be found. Maybe they would have been a bit closer than they would have a year before that, when they had burned all bridges with Jack Eichel and were in a state of extreme turmoil.
They are still not ready to compete for a Stanley Cup now, but the state of this organization compared to the past three years before is unrecognizable. They have made so much progress recently and got to the point of missing the playoffs this year by literally one point.
It is understandable why, as they already have enough talent on offense to keep up with the most prolific scoring teams in the NHL. The headliner Tage Thompson is a proven superstar, and their forward core is made up of other bright youngsters such as Dylan Cozens and Alex Tuch.
Even Jeff Skinner has recently played up to his contract, which is super important because he will remain on the books for four more years.
The Sabres are looking promising on their blue line as well, as Rasmus Dahlin is already proven, Owen Power did well in his rookie year, and they just locked up Mattias Samuelsson for seven more years. They have some legit building blocks for the future, and as long as they continue to develop, they should be set on skaters if they supplement them with the right depth.
But what is keeping the Sabres from being further up on this list is, first of all, their history as an organization shows that we should exercise caution before declaring them the next big threats in the league, or anything like that.
Additionally, they do not have a goaltender in their system who they can say is their definitive future. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen could end up being that guy, but that is not a sure thing in the slightest based on how he has fared so far.
The Sabres absolutely have time to figure that out whichever way they do, but need to get it solidified before their Stanley Cup window can really open.
So while the Sabres have the guys in place who could very likely be faces of a Cup-caliber team, they are still unproven as a franchise, and are a few depth pieces and a legit goaltender away from truly being ready to compete.
Stanley Cup window: 2 to 5 years from now