Shaping the Sabres Part 2: Draft Day

Part two of the Shaping the Sabres series centers around the entry draft in Sunrise, FL.

Chris: With our predraft trades locked away, that brings us to the draft table in Sunrise. I’d love to manufacture a deal using Buffalo’s other high picks and a prospect or two to grab an NHL-ready right winger. However, I’m unsure that the 21st and 31st picks along with a combination of prospects could land the type of top-six talent the Sabres need.

For example, players like Nino Niederretier and Wayne Simmonds are highly valued assets who are vital pieces for their respective franchises. Even including a prospect like Hudson Fasching or Justin Bailey wouldn’t likely get such a deal done, and adding anything else would make the offer from the Buffalo end far too lopsided. But that would still be the first avenue I explore.

Assuming any wingers worth chasing are out of the question, there are two players in the draft not named McDavid or Eichel who I am very high on: Timo Meier and Zach Werenski.

Draft day trade
The proposal and players Chris would target at the Sabres’ draft table.

Meier was a late riser who posted 90 points with Halifax this year while Werenski was dynamic as a freshman at Michigan. Werenski will need to slip to at least ninth or tenth overall to be an option for the Sabres while Meier has been pegged anywhere from eight or nine to the mid-teens. I’d take the guess work out of the equation and ship a package including the 21st and 31st picks to Colorado to secure the 10th pick. I’d even include an additional pick – perhaps a 3rd in 2016 – to help grease the rails.

Picking between the two (specifically Meier and Werenski) would be a mighty challenge. The organizational need for defensemen is obvious and grabbing a swift skating, left handed puck mover like Werenski would see me drafting for need and talent.

However, Meier is lauded as one of the few players in the draft who are nearly pro ready. Even if he isn’t ready for game one, snagging someone who would be that much closer to an NHL role (on the right wing no less) would be a boon for the rebuild. Continue reading

Shaping the Sabres Part 1: Crease Crashing

This is the first part of a three-part project in which Tyler and Chris discuss the moves they make if they occupied the general manager’s role with the Buffalo Sabres.

The draft is two weeks away and the Sabres rebuild will truly be in full swing when Tim Murray walks to the podium and announces Jack Eichel as the second overall pick. With that in mind we thought it would be interesting to deviate from the typical GM for a day articles and offer up our own version. Tyler and Chris will be going back and forth with our own plans for how we’d go about building the roster as the draft approaches.

The rules are simple, free agency, trades (of players and picks) and buyouts are all on the table and nothing is assumed. So if either of us sees Dylan Strome as the preferred number two pick, so be it. The one thing we won’t be doing is mocking the entire Sabres draft. So short of noting which players we like at 2, 21, 31 and 51, don’t expect to see much more beyond that. Otherwise we have a blank slate and blank checks signed by Uncle Terry himself.

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Buyout appears to be the best option for Hodgson

Cody Hodgson’s drastic regression over the course of last season brought the possibility of a buyout into the equation as early as the halfway point of the year.

Tim Murray reiterated that this week in a conversation with WGR 550, noting that Hodgson is a potential buyout candidate. While he didn’t definitively say if a buyout was coming the writing appears to be on the wall despite the strides Hodgson is taking in Sweden to improve his skating.

The question fans are now debating is whether or not it makes sense to use a buyout on Hodgson and his $4.25m cap hit. Hodgson’s down statistical year, tumble down the depth chart and general struggles in the skating and defensive departments make for a long road back for the former 10th overall pick. His advanced stats – as noted by Coller in the above post – were so dismal that even when deployed with better linemates, you have to wonder how much room for improvement there may be. Continue reading

Building Buffalo Podcast – Episode 4

Episode 4 of the Building Buffalo podcast touches on the 198 and the state of other major roadway projects that are in need of attention around WNY. We also discuss how the best integrate the Buffalo Zoo into Delaware Park in order to allow for future expansion of the Zoo itself.

Lastly, we talk about the recent news about Canalside and the need for immediate action in that district to ensure Buffalo’s most prominent entertainment district sees actual development this decade.

Building Buffalo Podcast - Fixing the 198 and Improving Delaware Park by Buildingbuffalopodcast on Mixcloud

2ITB Special: 2015 NHL Mock Draft

Guest Post by Matt Kopnak

Ed Note: The NHL Draft is fast approaching and we all know Jack Eichel will be officially named a Buffalo Sabre on June 26. The rest of the first round has a fair share of intrigue surrounding it and Matt Kopnak (follow him @mattkopnak) took some time to hammer out a mock draft for 2ITB. He has a few interesting picks sprinkled in and this will serve as a great precursor to the Mock Draft Instigator Podcast that will be coming in the very near future.

Enjoy Matt’s mock draft and stay tuned for the upcoming Instigator Mock Draft Podcast Spectacular. Continue reading

Instigator Podcast Episode 38 – What do to with 21

Tim Murray’s most recent interview on WGR highlighted the general manager’s interest in Halo along with his thoughts on the 21st pick. He mentioned Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov as a potential target with the 21st pick while also mentioning his interest in moving up in the draft.

Tyler and Chris chat about the best course of action with the 21st pick while also touching on the NHL Combine and other future NHL events that the Sabres are looking to land.

Instigator Podcast Episode 38 - What to do with 21 by The Instigator Podcast on Mixcloud

Thoughts on Dan Bylsma as Sabres Coach

The Buffalo Sabres officially moved on from the disappointment of missing out on the Mike Babcock sweepstakes when Tim Murray introduced Dan Bylsma as the 17th head coach in franchise history. For those that missed last night’s special edition of The Instigator Podcast, here are a few thoughts on the beginning of the Bylsma Era.

By inking Bylsma to a five year deal in the neighborhood of $3 million per year, Murray was able to snag the best available coach, and one of the few with a winning pedigree. While some fans may have had other candidates at the top of their lists, no one can disagree that getting a coach of Bylsma’s caliber to commit his future to the Sabres is a nice get for an organization that has taken its lumps around the hockey world over the last couple of seasons.

Hockey pundits view the hiring of Dan Bylsma as good business by Tim Murray

The Bylsma hire has been greeted by near unanimous approval from both local and national publications, and can be seen as the first bit of good press for the organization since Pat LaFontaine’s introductory press conference in November of 2014. That is not to say that what’s said in The Hockey News or TSN should be taken as gospel, but at the very least seeing some good things written about the team for a change is a bit of a morale booster. Continue reading