The Instigator Podcast Episode 41 – Waiting on the Frenzy

Ryan O’Reilly officially inks his deal with the Sabres and we discuss what direction Tim Murray may head when it comes to shoring up the Sabres blueline.

Instigator Podcast Episode 41 - Waiting on the Frenzy by The Instigator Podcast on Mixcloud

Murray’s makeover moves forward with aggressive draft day moves

It was a whirlwind of a weekend for Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres as Buffalo’s GM maneuvered to acquire a new starting goaltender, a legitimate top-six forward and a potential franchise defining talent with the first three picks at his disposal.

Oh, yeah, NOW you smile. – Terry Pegula.

The selection of Jack Eichel was all but guaranteed the moment the Oilers card was pulled during the draft lottery. But trading for Robin Lehner, David Legwand, Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn was hardly an expectation. The new acquisitions, coupled with this week’s signings, set the stage to push Buffalo’s rebuild forward significantly.

In January I wrote about the arsenal of assets Murray had at his disposal. At that time Murray held five of the first 60 picks in the draft along with a boatload of prospects at various levels of development. Today his roster is drastically altered. O’Reilly, Kane and Eichel are set to redefine the team’s top-six while Zach Bogosian and Robin Lehner will be vital pieces on the backend. Murray’s moves at the draft table completed a vital step of the rebuild and should push the Sabres firmly on the path back to competitiveness. Continue reading

Instigator Podcast Episode 40 – Lehner Acquired Ahead of Draft

Tune in for a final run-through of where the Sabres will go in this weekend’s draft along with a breakdown of how the Robin Lehner trade could work out for the Sabres.

Instigator Podcast Episode 40 - Sabres Acquire Lehner by The Instigator Podcast on Mixcloud

Mid-Round Picks Worth More than Meets the Eye

With the NHL Draft finally getting underway tomorrow evening, the value of draft picks is usually a topic of discussion around this time of year. Every media outlet, whether it be Sportsnet or TSN, has taken a stab at trying to determine the true value of a given draft pick. The measuring stick most used to figure out if a draft pick was successful is NHL games played. While I also implement the games played factor, I’ve opted to go in a bit of a different direction. Instead of trying to quantify the value of a given pick (or range of picks) I focused on the value of a pick in regards to the trade market.

I took the basic stats (games played, goals, assists, points) of every player who dressed in at least one NHL game this season. I also included if and where in the draft every player was selected, and how he was acquired by his current club, with the help of HockeyDB, Hockey Reference, and various team websites.

This is only one season of data so the results of the data do not reflect any decades long recipe for success or anything, but it does paint a pretty nice picture of where the league is today and where it may be headed. Continue reading

Building Buffalo Podcast – Sitting Back Sipping Some Beer

We welcome our first guest to the Building Buffalo Podcast as Matt Kahn of Big Ditch Brewery joins us to discuss Big Ditch and their part in the revival of downtown Buffalo. Tom and Chris also spend time talking about the vital role beer played in Buffalo’s past and where it fits in our future.

Building Buffalo Podcast - Sitting Back Sipping Some Beer by Buildingbuffalopodcast on Mixcloud

Hitting the floor will remain a breeze for Murray

For the second-straight season the Buffalo Sabres sit below the salary cap floor ahead of the opening of free agency. This is something I touched on last summer prior to free agency opening and my stance this year remains the same as it did last year; getting to the salary cap floor is the least of Tim Murray’s problems.

Buffalo’s journey to the cap floor likely won’t be a challenge for Tim Murray as the Sabres’ rebuild progresses.

Buffalo will likely hit the draft floor with a hair over $10m in space ($10,714,645 per General Fanager). Should Cody Hodgson be bought out, the figure will move to $13,922,979. Buffalo was right around $12m to the floor last year and since I’m betting on Hodgson being bought out, I’m going to proceed with the higher figure as my goal for the cap floor.

The biggest differentiating factor this year is that there isn’t a large RFA deal on the horizon for the Sabres to help carve out their gap to the floor. Tyler Ennis alone took care of $4.6m in space when his new deal was inked last summer. The Sabres are ripe with restricted and unrestricted free agents, but no one who will be re-signed are expected to carry a significant hit. In fact, it’s unlikely that any of Buffalo’s RFAs see anything more than a qualifying offer.

Mark Pysyk and Johan Larsson are the two most prominent RFAs who could potentially ask for a bridge deal, but I’d still bet on qualifying offers for each. All this means is that the RFAs Tim Murray chooses to retain won’t eat up a major portion of the cap. In fact, I’d be surprised if more than two current RFAs are with the big club next year.

Working under the assumption that Sam Reinhart will start the year in Buffalo along with Tim Schaller, Pysyk and Larsson, I come up with an estimated figure right in the $3.5m neighborhood. That may be a little light but I’d rather aim low than set unrealistic expectations. For example, Mark Pysyk could get a bridge deal that pays him two or three million a year which would account for an even larger chunk of cap.

Those moves put the organization just $10.2m short of the floor without accounting for any trades or unrestricted free agent signings. I expect Murray to follow a nearly identical path as he did last year in free agency. Two forwards will likely be brought in to reinforce the top and bottom-six, a veteran defenseman will be acquired and a goalie will be needed this year as well. Continue reading

Instigator Podcast Episode 39 – 2ITB Mock Draft Spectacular

We get together to discuss Tim Murray’s pre-draft press conference along with going through our own picks for 2015 NHL Draft.

Instigator Podcast Epsiode 39 - 2ITB Mock Draft Spectacular by The Instigator Podcast on Mixcloud