The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning didn't get to be Stanley Cup contenders overnight. Both teams went through tough times to build their rosters through the draft, trades and free agency. Because of the National Hockey League's salary cap, we see clubs go through the rebuilding process, then -- if they do it well -- have years of playoff contention before ultimately having to rebuild again.
Last week, we looked at the top three "win-now" teams that understand their stars are aging and geared up for another run at the Cup. This week, we look at the franchises that are well on their way to being the next Chicago or Tampa Bay -- aka our "win-later" clubs.
The team in the best position to be a championship team in several years is the Buffalo Sabres.
After finishing in 30th place two years in a row, the Sabres have drafted their future franchise players and spent assets in trades to stock up on high-level talent. Despite the upgrades to the 2015-16 roster, Buffalo should not be considered a Stanley Cup competitor or even a likely playoff team, but general manager Tim Murray's aggressive approach should push the Sabres in the right direction toward becoming a serious contender.