Scandella knew changes needed to happen after 2017-18 season

The second-year Sabres defenseman joined Howard and Jeremy on Thursday

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
September 21, 2018 - 11:11 am

Photo: Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports

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Last season was a disappointing first year for Marco Scandella with the Buffalo Sabres.

The 28-year-old defenseman was acquired last offseason by the Sabres from the Minnesota Wild to be part of a new-look, revamped defensive group for the 2017-18 season. However, the Sabres ended up finishing as one of the worst defensive groups in the National Hockey League, and the team ended up finishing in last place in the standings for a third time in five seasons.

For Scandella though, he ended up playing a full 82 games and was, perhaps, one of the bright spots on the Sabres roster with five goals and 22 points from the blue line.

With the disappointment that came from last season, the Sabres went on to make several changes on the roster, turning over 10 players and bringing in nine new ones for the 2018-19 season. As he enters his second season in Buffalo, Scandella is optimistic that this group of players can turn things around.

"I feel like we picked up some really good pieces," Scandella said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Thursday morning. "We have some great young guys, so it's super exciting right now. I feel like our team's faster, and it's been a very competitive camp. Just a lot of excitement going into the year."

In today's NHL, speed and skill is the standard for how to build a successful team in the league. The proof is in the pudding as teams around the NHL have made that transition to get faster and more skilled in order to be in a better spot to contend for the playoffs and the Stanley Cup each season.

The transition to that style of play has not been so easy for the Sabres. However, general manager Jason Botterill made several moves this offseason to acquire players like Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, and Tage Thompson to try and help get this team to where they need to be to compete for the long-term future.

Scandella knows that the changes were needed in Buffalo in order for the team to have a fighting chance this upcoming season.

"The game is always changing, but now speed kills," Scandella said. "I feel like we got faster. We made some good moves, [Botterill] made some great moves in the offseason. We've got a lot of good players, and it's been a competitive camp. I'm really excited about this year.

"Last year was a tough year, it was just a long year," Scandella said. "I feel like when you're not having that much fun, it just feels long and it feels like a job. Hockey is a game in which you're supposed to enjoy it. Coming into this year, we have a lot of new faces, a lot of guys I played against. [Berglund], Sobotka, these guys I've played playoff series against them, they're warriors. It's great to get some new guys like [Rasmus] Dahlin, and it's going to be nice to have some new faces, new energy and new blood in the building. That's what we're doing... You can see the energy is different inside the locker room."

As for Dahlin, he's another roster addition that is certainly going to make the Sabres a potential juggernaut in the Eastern Conference for the long-term. The Sabres selected the Swedish phenom with the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. In the short time that Scandella has gotten to skate with the 18-year-old kid, he has seen what Dahlin will mean to the team and the city of Buffalo for the years to come.

"He's a great kid," Scandella said. "In the dressing room, he fits in very well. He's a young kid, but he's mature. I just feel like with the way he moves out there, he's special. That's all you can say. The coaching staff will work with him and bring him to the next level. He's a very talented kid, and a great person. That's important for us. I can't wait to see how he develops this year.

"He's only going to get better and he's only going to help us. He's a great young player, and I'm excited to have him on the team and see how he's going to grow and develop."

You can listen to Scandella's entire interview below:

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