Staal Acquisition a Good One Despite Old Wounds

The 20 minutes between Jochen Hecht’s go-ahead goal and puck drop for the third period were sublime. The 20 minutes that followed were a nightmare of delay of game penalties and Rory Fitzpatrick’s skates.

The heartbreaking end to an exhilarating Conference Final run hasn’t been forgotten by Sabres fans in the 14 years that have followed. It’s still a fresh wound despite the time that has passed and, for fans of a certain age, salt was poured back in on Wednesday evening when the Sabres traded Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild for Eric Staal. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.36 – Balancing the Sabres Internal Budget

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the Sabres are expecting to operate with an internal budget which could drop as low as $70 million. We spend time talking about whether or not the Sabres could effectively operate at that figure (they can’t) and what steps they can take to come close to achieving a tighter budget when it comes to spending on the team. We also touch on the hiring of Peter Laviolette and Bill Zito, the new contract for Jonas Brodin and the Nick Bjugstad trade.

The Instigator Podcast 8.35 – Featuring John Vogl of The Athletic

John Vogl of The Athletic joined the show this week to discuss his recent article on the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. As a topic that’s held my attention in recent years, it was a surprise to learn about the unusual circumstances surrounding the management of the entity. We discuss how the organization which managed the Hall of Fame fell into disarray and how the Sabres have been left in the lurch as a result. Along the way we toss out a few candidates for future induction and hit on some roster-related topics as well.

Sabres History: The Seven Best Deadline Deals in Franchise History

The current state of the NHL has evolved to a state in which there are really only two days when teams make deals to shape their rosters; the draft and the trade deadline. Sure, there are still deals made between those two dates, but they’ve become few and far between in recent seasons.

Both dates are tantamount to holidays for hockey fans with deadline day being particularly significant for fans, pundits and teams. For a club that has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Buffalo Sabres have had their fair share of interesting deadlines.

Between another year without the playoffs and the COVID-induced delay, there hasn’t been too much to talk about from a Sabres perspective. A few minor signings and, of course, the hiring of Kevyn Adams, but it’s been a quiet few months on the hockey side. It’s a different story where the Pegulas’ lifestyle is concerned, but from a strictly hockey perspective, it’s been a low key summer.

As a result, I thought I’d spend a little time combing over the club’s history at the trade deadline. Whether or not the 20-21 deadline plays a major role in the shaping of the roster or long-term success of the club can’t be known, but there are 49 deadlines that have played such a role in one way or another.

I’ve compiled what I feel are the seven most notable deadline trades in club history. I worked to rate each deal based on the clout of each player involved and both the short- and long-term effects the pieces had on the organization. I allowed for a few day’s worth of wiggle room from the deadline, but no more than four or five days. The trades are listed in chronological order as opposed to a proper ranking. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.34 – NHL Postpones Playoff Action

This week’s episode begins with a discussion of the decision by the NHL’s players to push for postponement of Thursday and Friday’s games as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you don’t wish to listen to that portion of the conversation because the Black Lives Matter movement triggers you in some way, I’d recommend you fast forward to the 26 or 27 minute mark of the show when we begin discussing the Kasperi Kapanen trade and a potential trade partner for the Sabres.

The Instigator Podcast 8.33 – Royally Fun First Round

We’re playing catch up on this week’s episode after missing last week’s batch of news. So we run down the Sabres return to royal blue and the unveiling of their new uniforms. We touch on the Rangers lottery win, the qualifying round and the Amerks’ hiring of Seth Appert. The bulk of the episode is devoted to the first round of the NHL playoffs and how each of the series has shaped up.

Last Minute Sabres Royal Blue Jersey Concept

The Sabres will arrive at the end of a long, winding path to once again wearing royal blue jerseys when the officially unveil their uniforms Tuesday morning.

It’s an event that fans have been clamoring for years and the organization is finally adjusting course 24 years after first abandoning their original color scheme.

The Pegulas and Sabres have made it awfully easy to take shots at their ineptitude recently and it’s easy to assume that these new jerseys will fall flat. However, knowing that Eric Bodamer’s guidance on the Winter Classic and 50th anniversary uniforms created such great designs and the added background of years of fan requests, I’m confident in saying there’s no way this thing goes sideways on them. Assuming Bodamer was part of the design process, his work with Adidas outweighs the Sabres recent jersey design missteps.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday morning. Knowing that the team is going back to royal blue, my wishlist of features on the jerseys are short. I’d love to see the team move away from the bland block numbers and towards something more contemporary, that they use the stylized crest and shoulder logos featured on the 2018 Winter Classic uniforms and I hope these uniforms finally mark the end of numbers on the front of Buffalo’s jerseys.

It’s a short list and I’m not going to be heartbroken if these are a little more traditional and wind up closer to the original set of uniforms. In the meantime, I took a little time to cook up a concept for home and away jersey’s that I’d personally like to see. It’s important that I stress that these are not a mockup or concept of what the Sabres will be unveiling. These are simply a set of jerseys that I feel would be a cool step for the team to take.

They’re both based off previous designs less than being any sort of original creation. So my level of involvement is equivalent to that of writing a Buzzfeed listicle. I just wanted to play around with a couple of ideas on a jersey set that would be different from what the club has been wearing while staying rooted in a traditional look and feel. These two templates do that well while also blending nicely with modern elements. I’m looking forward to your positive and negative feedback on these while we count down the last few hours until the Sabres drop their new jerseys on Tuesday morning.

Ranking the Potential NHL Lottery Winners

The NHL’s second draft lottery drops tonight with the eight eliminated Stanley Cup Qualifier teams holding equal 12.5% odds to land the first overall selection.

Maybe it was just me, but the minute the league announced that they’d be using placeholder spots for teams in the qualifying round, I knew one would wind up winning a top three pick. That feeling of inevitability wasn’t due to suspicion of foul play or some sort of fixed lottery but simply from knowing this league has perfected over complicating practically everything.

In and of itself, awarding lottery odds to eliminated teams wasn’t a poor choice. Given the gift on hindsight, the league probably would’ve been smarter to do a single drawing with the original odds once the qualifying round was done. Splitting the lottery was an odd choice which really only opened the door for complaints from fanbases (and probably some GMs) around the league. It will only become more unpopular if one of the stronger teams in tonight’s drawing wins the first pick.

The drawing itself if rife with potential controversy. You can expect a wave of negative reactions if Toronto, Pittsburgh or Edmonton win this evening. Even the Rangers, fresh off picking second last year after some lottery luck, would be a fairly unpopular result. There are also some very obvious Sabres-related pitfalls that could come out of tonight. A Leafs win would be, let’s say, inconvenient. As would a Panthers win. Really any Eastern Conference win would create challenges for the Sabres. With that in mind, let’s rank the potential lottery winners based on how it could affect the Sabres and though the additional lens of my personal preferences. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.32 – NHL Playoff Preview Extravaganza

The NHL will officially be back in just a few short days and we’re running through the qualifying round matchups on this week’s show. We touch on each series and point out what to watch for and who we’re favoring in each matchup. We also offer up our picks for Cup finalists despite the many pitfalls that the combined layoff and unusual nature of this year’s playoff format creates.

 

The Instigator Podcast 8.31 – The NHL Award Prediction Show

We dive into the NHL awards finalists on this week’s show. Offering up our predictions on who we think will take home hardware at the end of this season. We even sprinkle in a few thoughts on who should win in a few cases where we think the voters may go in a different direction. Along the way we offer a brief NHL Qualifying Round preview, with a deeper dive coming next week and we also chat a bit about the Blue Jays and Buffalo as a potential home for the club.