Looking ahead for the Buffalo Sabres: Decision looms on Jeff Skinner

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As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction on what 2019-20 will hold.

What went wrong

The Buffalo Sabres entered the season with three key acquisitions: winger Jeff Skinner, acquired in a trade with Carolina; defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft; and goalie Carter Hutton, signed away from the Blues.

The good news: They all worked out well, especially with Skinner's career-redefining season playing with Buffalo star Jack Eichel. Skinner had 37 goals, matching his career best, through 73 games.

The bad news: Not much else worked out. The Sabres couldn't score (25th in goals) or defend (23rd in goals against), and a 6-11-4 stretch in the middle of the season torpedoed them.

They remain a team with more questions than answers as general manager Jason Botterill enters his third offseason.