The Instigator Podcast 9.32 – Breaking Down a Wild Draft Weekend

We’re back with a longer episode this week as there was a lot of action from the draft to dig into. Not only do we discuss Buffalo’s picks but offer up our favorites of Kevyn Adams’ class of 2021. The big topics were the pair of trades the Sabres made; sending Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. We provide a quick update on where the Eichel sweepstakes stand and close the show with a bit of conversation on free agency.

The Instigator Podcast 9.31 – Expansion and NHL Draft Breakdown

Sandwiching this episode between the Expansion Draft and NHL Draft left us with quite a bit to talk about. We break down Seattle’s selections and their lack of side deals. We also run down the players the Sabres will have under consideration at first overall but also at the top of the second round. We close up the show with a brief Jack Eichel update and a quick rundown of Thursday’s trades.

Listen to “The Instigator Podcast 9.31 – Expansion Draft and NHL Draft Breakdown” on Spreaker.

Building a Seattle Expansion Roster

The benefit of Vegas and Seattle’s entry to the league (besides the $500 expansion fees) has been the added intrigue they bring to the offseason. The debate over Carey Price has dominated the conversation over the past week, but there’s plenty of intrigue to come as Seattle makes their selections on Wednesday.

Like every other person who has access to Cap Friendley and discusses hockey on the internet, I took a shot at my own Seattle expansion roster. This is not a mock expansion draft in the truest sense of the world. I didn’t draft this from the perspective of what I think Seattle will do, so don’t interpret this as predictive. I built this roster as I would if I were running Seattle’s draft, with a couple of notable exceptions (Chris Driedger, for example). A couple of additional notes. First, I didn’t take into account any expansion deals that may be struck between Seattle and other teams. I didn’t want to go too far into fantasy land, so I left out any of those side deals which may protect some notable players that have been left exposed. I will add some notes along the way where I feel side deals could be struck, however. This is just how I’d draft for Seattle given the players that were left exposed around the league. I also followed the rules set forth by the league for the draft. That means 30 selections, a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen and three goalies and all between 60 and 100 percent of the cap.

My aim was to craft a team that would have the talent to compete early, and with a little luck pull off something close to what Vegas did in 2017-18. But I also worked to select younger players who were still bordering on prospect status. Specifically higher draft picks who haven’t popped at the NHL level yet but can still offer some longer-term promise. In the end I wound up with 15 players age 25 or under, a cap hit of $63.4 million prior to free agency and roughly $17 million to re-sign RFAs and make other moves down the line.

The picks are arranged by team, alphabetically.

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Two in the Mailbox: Number Changes and Offseason Targets

The expansion draft is less than 48 hours away and there will be ample time for another flurry of trades between Thursday and Friday’s first round. As we sit on the precipice of the next opportunity for the league’s GMs to swing some deals, it felt like a good time to run out another mailbag. With that said, let’s jump into your questions.

@donmanski – Do we still expect to see the Sabres have more than 1 top 10 pick in the draft? I thought it was attached to Reinhart going to Columbus but can’t recall where I was it.

You never want to set too high of an expectation that a pair of NHL GMs are going to do anything. But I’ll say that the original report was fairly definitive, so there’s almost certainly some truth to it. It comes down to whether or not the Sabres pull the trigger on a Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart trade on either Thursday or Friday. Those are the two guys most likely to fetch the Sabres that extra top-10 pick, so that’s the chatter to watch.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.30 – Expansion Considerations

It’s only Tuesday and it’s been a big week in the NHL as Duncan Keith was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild bought out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. We break down each of those moves and what it means for the respective teams involved. We also tackle Buffalo’s expansion outlook and offer up our thoughts on who we expect the Sabres to protect and who we hope the Sabres will protect for next week’s expansion draft.

Sabres Faced with a Challenge in Net

Kevyn Adams took a calculated risk when he opted not to move Linus Ullmark ahead of the trade deadline this past season.

Ullmark, a pending unrestricted free agent, was one of the few bright spots for the Sabres this past year and has developed into a reliable NHL goaltender. Despite the lack of a contract extension, Adams seems to have felt it was more beneficial to keep Ullmark in the fold for future extension talks as opposed to collecting an asset for him.

Free agency is now approaching and it seems likely that Ullmark will hit the open market and likely sign with a team closer to competing. The Sabres are already short on goaltending depth, with Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as the only goaltenders under contract for next year. Adams was going to have to bring on at least one goalie this offseason and now it’s looking like he may need a pair.

Luukkonen’s short cameo in the spring featured a few highlights but he still looked like a prospect who needed a touch more seasoning. Tokarski also performed admirably but his rightful place is on the Rochester roster.

That means at least two goalies are needed with an organizational third not being out of the realm of possibility. The Sabres won’t be alone in the goalie market as I count at least eight teams who could (or should) be in the goalie market this summer.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.29 – Recapping the Stanley Cup Final

We’re back on the heels of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, breaking down what helped power the Tampa Bay Lightning to their second-straight title and what went wrong for the Montreal Canadiens. We discuss what’s next for the Habs as whether or not they can capitalize on their unexpected run. We also touch on the Lightning’s cap overage and whether or not the outrage over it is deserved.

Granato Feels Like the Right Fit for Where the Sabres are Heading

The Sabres might’ve taken the scenic route but they finally arrived at a decision on their head coach.

I’m not sure many were surprised to see Don Granato earn the removal of interim from his title, but the time between the end of the season and the official announcement was notable. It probably would’ve taken a really impactful interview to sway the Sabres off Granato, but the organization left that door open in case anyone was able to present themselves in an impressive enough fashion.

Credit to the Sabres for being thorough with their search, even if the most pessimistic among us may feel it was mostly for show. For a club that doesn’t get too many things right, it’s only fair to give them credit when they earn it.

As for their choice for the 20th head coach in franchise history, we’ll see what the next three years have to offer as he officially inherits a job that’s likely going to get a lot tougher in the coming weeks and months.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.28 – Dropping the Puck on the Stanley Cup Final

The Stanley Cup Final is rolling and we are here to offer up a series preview and prediction as the Lightning and Canadiens. We discuss who has the edge in net and whether or not Montreal can contain the impressive depth of Tampa Bay. We also touch on the Sabres coaching search and the NHL’s officiating issues.

The Instigator Podcast 9.27 – Remembering Rene Robert

The passing of Rene Robert struck the hockey world and the Sabres organization. We talk about the figure Robert was as a player and into his retirement for the Sabres. We also spend a few minutes talking about JJ Peterka after he signed his entry level contract and even touch on some signs of cautious optimism with regard to Buffalo’s draft capital and recent selections.