The Instigator Podcast 9.21 – Miller Time

Ryan Miller’s career is coming to an end and we attempt too give him a proper send off, celebrating his career with the Sabres and discussing just how much of an impact he made on the ice and in the community. We also touch on Tom Wilson, the Department of Player Safety and the fallout from Monday’s incident in New York.

The Instigator Podcast 9.20 – The Eichel Episode

There has been a whole lot said about Jack Eichel over the last few years – and this year in particular. We try and encapsulate some of that conversation related to the Sabres star as we analyze how badly the Sabres miss him on the ice, some of the questionable opinions that exist about him publicly and also the potential that he could be traded. Not only do we discuss the idea that Eichel could be moved but what a trade would look like and how it could affect the club in both the short and long term. Also on this week’s show is a discussion on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and his NHL debut.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.19 – The Kids are Alright

Buffalo’s young players have been getting plenty of attention since Don Granato took over, playing key roles in the Sabres’ stretch run. We discuss the impact some of the prospects and young players have had this spring and the potential that exists for that group to have a significant impact in the future as well. We also place focus on Don Granato and whether or not he should be the first choice as the long-term head coach of the team. There’s also bonus conversation on the European Super League and the fallout of the apparent failure of some of soccer’s biggest clubs to break off and make their own competition.

The Instigator Podcast 9.18 – Deadline Recap

The deadline has passed and while Kevyn Adams checked off the boxes he needed to, he hardly gets a passing grade after a pretty underwhelming deal for Taylor Hall. We run through Buffalo’s work at today’s deadline and touch on some of the bigger deals swung at the 2021 deadline.

The Instigator Podcast 9.17 – NHL Trade Deadline Primer

The NHL trade deadline is upon us and the Sabres are poised to be sellers. We run through the list of players the Sabres could move by Monday afternoon and even target a couple of potential additions who could step in to close out the season and looking towards 2021-22. We also discuss the Kyle Palmieri trade and the implications that may have on the Sabres’ ability to move Taylor Hall.

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Two in the Mailbox: Hall Trade on the Horizon

It looks as if Taylor Hall has played his last game with the Sabres. As of this writing, Hall has been ruled out of Buffalo’s game against the Devils on Tuesday, April 6. With only six more days until the trade deadline, the odds that he’s seen in a Sabres jersey again sit somewhere between slim and none.

I meant to run this mailbag a few days earlier than it’s being dropped, so a couple of these questions may not seem as timely as they otherwise would have. The news of the week is Hall being scratched for the Devils game in anticipation of a trade being finalized. It seems unlikely that he even makes it to the deadline at this point, with a quicker conclusion to a trade benefiting any team that acquires him, especially those in Canada.

I’m not sure there’s any other way to describe Hall’s tenure in Buffalo as anything other than a huge disappointment. Luckily, the one-year deal the team signed him to mitigated any sort of long-term damage to their cap or depth chart, but two goals and 19 points over 37 games isn’t what you’re expecting from a former MVP. It’s certainly a far sight from Terry Pegula’s “We sign this guy, we’re not only trying to make the playoffs, we’re trying to win the Cup.”

Chasing Hall, like acquiring Eric Staal made for an exciting and promising offseason for the team. Not only was Hall a former MVP but he was the type of top-tier talent that could have helped take the Sabres to another level. Instead, he suffered through an abysmal stretch of shooting that tanked his stats and made him look like a passenger instead of the dynamic contributor he’d been earlier in his career.

We’ll wait to see what sort of trade return Kevyn Adams gets for Hall and whether or not that can help provide either short or long-term assistance to this club. Now, for your questions.

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Staal Adds His Name to List of Buffalo Cameos

Eric Staal’s tenure with the Sabres will be largely forgettable. Traded after 32 games, three goals and 10 points, there will be few people who ever connect Staal to the Sabres.

He’s hardly the first notable player to have a cameo with the Sabres and hardly the first to have a rather minimal impact. He certainly won’t be the last (paging Taylor Hall). The list of notables whose Sabres tenure is barely a blip in relation to the rest of their career is pretty impressive. There’s a healthy mix of late stage trade or free agent acquisitions with early departures.  

I don’t know how Buffalo’s list compares to other teams around the league given that these scenarios are pretty commonplace. It’s not hard to come up with a handful of examples of notable stars having a cup of coffee with a team at the end of their career. Remember Dallas Star Eric Lindros? Calgary Flame Curtis Joseph? How about legendary Toronto Maple Leaf (or Boston Bruin) Brian Leetch.

Staal is the latest Sabre to get added to this rather ignominious list and he probably won’t even be the last one this season. Acquiring Staal was a shrewd move by Kevyn Adams. It’s unfortunate that the deal didn’t work out as Staal represented a quality upgrade at center behind Jack Eichel. The results didn’t follow and now we can catalog where Staal falls among others whose Sabres career isn’t the easiest to recall.

Staal’s 32 games falls right in the middle of this group of trade and free agent acquisitions who simply didn’t give the Sabres much bang for their buck.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.16 – Pipe Cleaning

This week we discuss some of the rumors swirling about Buffalo’s front office and how the various names connected to the Sabres could affect their future. We touch on the trade that sent Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens and the potential positive impact of the return. We wrap up the show analyzing some college free agents who could help in goal.

The Hockey News link on draft lottery changes:https://www.si.com/hockey/news/which-recent-nhl-draft-lottery-outcomes-led-to-the-new-rule-changes

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

Instigator Podcast listeners can get 2500 free coins when they download the Vig It sports app and use our promo code 2ITB when you register. Bet on the NHL, NBA, MLB and win real prizes with Vig It. The app is free to download and free to play which means you can start earning coins to win prizes today.

Staal Trade Sets the Table for an Interesting Stretch Run

Spring cleaning started in earnest for Kevyn Adams and the Sabres with Friday’s trade of Eric Staal. There’s almost certainly more to come for the four-plus UFAs expected to be shopped ahead of the April 12 deadline.

The Staal move works on a number of levels for the Sabres. The most obvious being the return on an expiring contract and a player who hadn’t performed to expectation this season. Getting a 3rd and 5th round picks for Staal feels appropriate given his play this season, but perhaps slightly underwhelming given the player he’d been for the Wild over the last few seasons.

Buffalo has had some poor results at recent deadlines, particularly in seasons where they had opportunities to sell expiring assets. Tim Murray notably made zero moves in what would be his final deadline and Jason Botterill only made one move at his first deadline; trading Evander Kane to San Jose in a year the Sabres finished dead last.

Botterill’s subsequent deadlines featured a mix of buying and selling, meaning this year might be the first the Sabres sell on a number of players for the first time since 2015. An odd consideration given their results in the interim but the sad reality the organization is facing.

I suppose Jonas Johansson was really the first domino to fall but Staal is one of Buffalo’s three big(ish) tickets for this year’s deadline. Taylor Hall is the big prize while Brandon Montour is rumored to be on the block as well.

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Sabres Goaltending Pipeline Needs a Boost

It may seem odd that a team so badly in need of help in goal would opt to trade away one of the few goaltenders they had left. But that’s exactly what the Sabres did in dealing Jonas Johansson to Colorado last week.

Things got dicey for the Sabres in the wake of that decision as Carter Hutton went down with a friendly fire injury just two days later. Of course, that’s the sort of season the Sabres are having. Fairly innocuous decisions turn into catastrophes in the blink of an eye.

In the big picture, of course, not having Johansson to rotate in with Hutton, even in the wake of his injury is practically irrelevant. Johansson recorded a singular win for the Sabres over the course of 13 appearances and both this year and last, sported a save percentage under .900. The difference between what he and Dustin Tokarski are capable of providing is minimal.  

The stark reality for the Sabres is that without Linus Ullmark in net, their chances at victory are slim. Carter Hutton has failed to regain the form that earned him his contract, Johansson didn’t display enough pro traits and Tokarski has looked very much like a goalie who hasn’t seen an NHL game in four years. If it isn’t Ullmark between the pipes, it really makes no difference who is playing in his place these days.

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