The Instigator Podcast 6.5 – Discussing the Bright Spots at Development Camp and Key Sabres Contracts

Sabres Development Camp wrapped up with the French Connection Tournament yesterday and in the wake of another mid-summer peek at Buffalo’s prospect pipeline, Chris and Tyler share their thoughts on who stood out from the crowd over the weekend. In addition, we offer up some thoughts on the contract status of Robin Lehner, Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel. Although we don’t spend very much time on #15.

New Phone Wallpapers for the 2017-18 Season

With the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres season rapidly approaching, I built out some new phone background for use as a lockscreen, wallpaper or both. I’ll add new players as the season goes on and if you have any requests, send them my way. Enjoy. Continue reading

Plenty of Players to Keep an Eye on at Sabres Development Camp

There will be a strong pro presence at this year’s Sabres Development Camp thanks to a host of older prospects who will Buffalo’s recent draft classes at the team’s annual summer camp.

Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste, Hudson Fasching, Brendan Guhle, Sean Malone, Alex Nylander and CJ Smith all saw time with the big club last season and are part of a larger group of 13 players who enter development camp with a professional contract. 

While this group might not necessarily be as sexy as the 2015 camp headlined by Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, the impressive stable of talent at this year’s development camp will likely draw the attention of the most prospect apathetic fans like @buffalowins. Thanks to the presence of the last two first round picks and a number of other intriguing prospects, this year’s development camp has the potential to provide some entertaining and insightful results.

Since there will be so many players with pro experience at camp, the skill level ought to be higher than previous years. However, with that skill level comes the expectation of dominance for more developed prospects. The likes of Bailey, Fasching and Guhle should stand out this weekend and the only real surprise would be if someone from the group of incumbent pros doesn’t look heads and shoulders better than some of the younger attendees.

I always have a handful of players I look forward to seeing at camp but I had trouble whittling down this year’s roster to just five or six intriguing names. So, because there were so many players I had hoped to see, and in the interest of being a bit different from the other Development Camp previews that are out there, I thought I’d provide a few groups of players who offer the most intrigue to me. You may not have as much interest in these groups or individuals as I do, but these will be the players I’m keeping track of this weekend in the hopes that they’re on track to become long-term contributors for the Sabres. Continue reading

Sartorial Sabres Build A Better Sweater

Guest Post from Pro Stock Hockey

Forget about six years without a trip to the playoffs — suddenly, things are looking good for Buffalo Sabres fans.

Yes, a good chunk of that optimism might stem from hiring a general manager who helped build three champions in 10 years at Pittsburgh. Or the fact that the new GM plundered the staff of the other Stanley Cup finalist for his new coach — who just happens to be maybe the greatest blue-liner in Sabres history.

Yet a rebuild spearheaded by Jason Botterill and Phil Housley might take years before it pays off with as big a win as the Sabres posted June 20, when the NHL debuted new jerseys for its 31 teams with new supplier adidas. Continue reading

Have No Fear, Petersen Decision Isn’t A Sign of Larger Issues

After Jason Botterill’s pre-draft confirmation that Cal Petersen would not be a Sabre, the saga officially came to an end when the goaltender inked an entry-level contract with the LA Kings.

Petersen’s decision to test the open market was rumored going back to the spring and was all but guaranteed when he announced he was turning professional as opposed to signing an entry-level deal with the Sabres in May. His departure is a sore spot for Sabres fans who saw Tim Murray acquire Jimmy Vesey’s rights only for the Hobey Baker winner to test the market last summer.

Petersen is the fourth NCAA prospect in as many years to opt to test free agency as opposed to signing with the team that drafted them. By my count, eight NCAA prospects have opted for free agency since 2008; Blake Wheeler, Justin Schultz, Blake Kessel, Jason Gregorie, Kevin Hayes, Mike Reilly, Jimmy Vesey and Cal Petersen. We’ll see a ninth join the group when Will Butcher hits free agency in August but it’s hard to say how much responsibility lies with the Avalanche for pushing Butcher to free agency.

Note: This doesn’t include players who signed as free agents after the team allowed their draft rights to expire. There may be other prospects who went this route as well, but none that I came across. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.4 – Breaking Down the Sabres Acquisition of Scandella

Jason Botterill made a big move on the blueline today, acquiring Marco Scandella from the Minnesota Wild in a package that included old friend Jason Pominville. Chris and Tyler offer up our thoughts on only dealing Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis to get the deal done and what we think it means for the Sabres plans in free agency and how it affects the outlook for the 2017-18 season.

Even with Ullmark in Hand Sabres Need to Supplement their Goaltending Pipeline

While the Sabres didn’t lose Linus Ullmark to the Vegas expansion draft, Buffalo’s goaltending pipeline remains a weak point within the organization; something that will need to be addressed this summer.

It appears evident that Cal Petersen will exercise his right as a free agent and sign with one of the league’s other 30 clubs. UPDATE: Jason Botterill confirmed today that Petersen will test free agency, adding that he doesn’t expect Petersen to sign with the Sabres.

That leaves the Sabres with only Jonas Johansson and restricted free agent Jason Kasdorf (edit: Kasdorf still has a year left) in the pipeline. With Ullmark set to graduate to full-time duty as Robin Lehner’s backup, the Sabres will need to get to work on finding help in net.

Count on the draft being the first step towards remedying the situation. The Sabres will draft at least one goaltender this weekend and may have been slated to spend a late round pick on a second had they not shipped their sixth round pick to Vegas as part of the expansion draft. Spending a pick on Jake Oettinger or Keith Petruzzelli (profiled in Kris Baker’s draft preview) would provide the Sabres a high value prospect to groom over the next couple of seasons. Both fit the blueprint of a modern NHL goaltender; a big body that can move well and both would instantly upgrade Buffalo’s goaltending depth.

Beyond the draft, the Sabres could use a few assets to take on key minutes in Rochester and to push Lehner and Ullmark. At the very least, the Sabres need to acquire one goalie this summer. Kasdorf is most likely to be shuttling between Rochester and Cincinnati, if not taking permanent residence with the Cyclones after a rough rookie season. A goaltender to work in tandem with Johansson in Rochester, if not a player capable of ascending to a higher level with additional growth, will be needed. Continue reading