Projecting the Sabres Roster on the Eve of Final Cuts

The Sabres begin the season in four days, and some question marks still remain as to who will be part of that opening night roster against Ottawa. The organization has made quite a few cuts over recent days that have answered some questions, such as sending Cal O’Reilly down to Rochester. There’s still a handful of decisions to be made in the next 24 hours, or so, with the roster currently sitting at 28 players and only enough room for 23. Here’s how I see the Sabres’ roster looking to start the year. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast Episode 43 – 2015-16 Season Preview

Tyler and Chris are back after summer break and we’re talking about the outlook for the 2015-16 Sabres season. We spend some time looking at some question marks surrounding the defense corps, just how long of a look Brendan Guhle will get and realistic expectations for this year’s team.

Instigator Podcast Episode 43 - 2015-16 Sabres Season Preview by The Instigator Podcast on Mixcloud

Remember #GaslightForGoalSong When You Vote for the Sabres Goal Song

The Sabres are hosting a little contest to determine their goal song for the upcoming season and the #GaslightForGoalSong campaign is one step closer to being realized.

The Sabres have eight choices for the new goal song in total that range from truly dreadful to more than acceptable. Highlights include something horrible by Pitbull, Swords of 1,000 Men (which already had a short-lived run as the goal song) and Let Me Clear My Throat by DJ Kool.

I have, at times, offered up my thoughts on certain aspects of game presentation at Sabres games. For the most part I’m relatively indifferent to what they do until I see a promotional game befit for minor league baseball or just terrible, awful music being played. So game presentation is hardly a hill I’m willing to die on. I do, however, wish the Sabres had a better goal song. Continue reading

Sabres Goal Masks for the 2015-16 Season

With a new season comes new helmets and the Sabres organization will be treated to a number of new goal masks for this season. Thanks to Tim Murray’s dealing, Chad Johnson and Robin Lehner bring their unique looks to the organization this season. Additionally, Linus Ullmark and CJ Motte will have new mask art to add to the organizational list.

Here are the masks Buffalo’s goaltenders will be sporting as the season opens: Continue reading

Sharing Some Thoughts on Last Night’s Sabres-Related Outrage

The Sabres opened their preseason schedule last night in Minnesota with Jack Eichel dazzling in his first game action against NHL veterans, perhaps you heard. You may have also heard that the game wasn’t on television.

There has been a fair bit of outrage on the Twitterverse due to this development. The lack of streaming content for last weekend’s Prospects Challenge has left a hockey starved fan base without much to hang on as the regular season approaches. Last night’s game wound up bringing various fan complaints to a head. It was underscored by the adorable Tweet pictured here.sabres

Now, the Sabres have traditionally kept preseason games off television. My understanding from when I was with the Sabres is that it’s a relatively fruitless venture which puts an undue expense on the broadcast arm of the team. This makes a lot of sense when you consider your typical preseason game roster is filled at least halfway with players who won’t be with the club during the regular season and the viewer base isn’t nearly as invested as they would be for a regular season game.

I pointed this out on Twitter earlier in the day as the fervor over the lack of TV or a stream began to ramp up. At the very least, the precedent has been a relative lack of TV games in the preseason. So it’s not as if this was a massive change from the past. Also, from my perspective, I wasn’t overly concerned that the game wasn’t on TV.

What seems to have led to the collective outrage over last night’s game is a combination of poor outreach via social media and the swell of frustration surrounding streaming (and not streaming) the prospects games this summer. Continue reading

Revamped Blueline a Key in Buffalo’s Turnaround

As the Sabres open their preseason campaign this evening against Minnesota, portions of the reshaped roster will be front and center for the first time. While this includes players like Jack Eichel, Buffalo’s beefed up blueline will be on display as well.

Buffalo returns most of their defensive corps from the end of the 2014-15 campaign as Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen and Mike Weber will all see significant minutes this season. However, Mark Pysyk is expected to be in Buffalo full-time along with new additions Carlo Colaiacovo and Cody Franson. Those new faces should each play their own role in turning the corner after two years of woeful defensive results.

While Ristolainen will remain on the shelf for a little while longer due to a pre-camp injury, the club opened camp with a pretty clear picture of what their defense pairs will look like. Gorges is skating alongside Bogosian, Weber is paired with Pysyk while Colaiacovo and Franson are the next pair up. One would presume that Ristolainen steps in with Pysyk when he’s healthy, but that’s hardly set in stone at this point.

Based on the current pairings, it would seem that Gorges and Bogosian will serve as the team’s top pair with Pysyk and Ristolainen potentially seeing second pairing minutes. Colaiacovo and Franson are likely best used in manageable situations – something Murray mentioned after signing Franson – which would be ideal for a third pair made up of two veterans who can contribute offensively.

Assuming Weber is penciled in as the seventh man for the time being, he will likely be utilized when Dan Bylsma is looking to ice a heavier lineup or even a defensive corps with more of a tendency to stay at home.

Depth beyond the top seven is far more impressive than it was just a year ago. Of course, the top seven is far more impressive than it was a year ago. Jake McCabe is the prohibitive favorite to be the first call up and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t recalled on a fairly regular basis. Chad Ruhwedel, Matt Donovan and Bobby Sanguinetti all have NHL experience and while they’ll each see more time in Rochester than Buffalo, they provide fair replacement value should the Sabres be hit by an injury bug. Continue reading

Reloaded Forward Group is Full of Upside

Pop quiz, hot shot. Can you name all of the forwards vying for a spot on the Sabres roster this year? No cheating.

The Sabres enter camp with a hefty roster bolstered by two years of rebuilding. As a result, fresh faces abound and it isn’t too hard to leave out a name or two while you’re penciling in lines.

Tim Murray’s first 18 months have brought Evander Kane, Jamie McGinn, Ryan O’Reilly (and brother Cal), Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson and Robin Lehner (among others) to the Queen City. Oh, and two guys named Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, too. As a result, trying to ferret out exactly who will be on the opening night roster isn’t an easy task.

Obviously Eichel is going to be at the center of attention throughout camp. After all, where would the Sabres marketing team be if they couldn’t show us Jack Eichel doing Jack Eichel things with people who aren’t Jack Eichel? All kidding aside, I’m beyond ecstatic to see him in preseason action after his play in development camp (especially the 3-on-3 tournament) and at the Prospects Challenge. I just hope the Sabres don’t run him into the ground as they try to promote him the team.

The number of potential position battles for a team starting to turn the corner out of a rebuild isn’t that surprising. The forward group has the most potential for upheaval as there are upwards of 15 players who could conceivably push for a roster spot for the October 8 opener. Continue reading