McLeod wants to bring winning attitude to Sabres

McLeod wants to bring winning attitude to Sabres
McLeod wants to bring winning attitude to Sabres

Ryan McLeod knows how tough it is to qualify and endure the grind of a long playoff run. After reaching the Stanley Cup Final with the Edmonton Oilers, he now hopes to take those lessons learned to the Buffalo Sabres.

The 24-year-old forward was traded to the Sabres along with forward Ty Tullio on Friday in exchange for forward prospect Matthew Savoie.

“It’s tough to win,” McLeod said Wednesday. “It’s something you learn over time. It’s tough to make the playoffs, and it’s especially tough to win every round; it gets tougher every time.

“I think the best thing we did in Edmonton was try to keep our confidence level as high as possible. We were trying to make plays throughout the playoffs. I think I’ll be able to bring that element to the next few seasons.”

Buffalo has missed the playoffs in the last 13 seasons, an NHL record. Two years ago, in 2022-23, they came close to ending that drought by finishing just one point behind the Florida Panthers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

That performance had led to high expectations heading into last season, but the Sabres struggled in all sorts of ways. They finished 39-37-6, sixth in the Atlantic Division, seven points worse than the previous season. They fired coach Don Granato on April 16 and hired Lindy Ruff, who was their coach when they last made the playoffs in 2011, six days later.

Edmonton has qualified for the playoffs in each of McLeod’s four seasons with the Oilers. Prior to this most recent run, Edmonton had advanced beyond the second round just once since its last appearance in the Grand Final in 2006, reaching the Western Conference Final in 2021-22.

“It’s really hard to win in this league,” McLeod said. “And the margin for error is so small that every little detail matters. Over the course of 82 games, if you do it the right way, it’s going to even out.”

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