Two in the Mailbox – Reinhart, Cliff Pu’s Ceiling and Goalie Stuff

I’m a big fan of Drew Magary’s weekly Funbag over at Deadspin. While I’m hardly the writer Drew is, I wanted to try to emulate his weekly feature here at Two in the Box. So on a weekly basis the Two in the Mailbox mailbag will hit on Sabres topics and anything else you might want to discuss. All questions are welcome. Goalie stuff, hockey equipment, Buffalo development, quantum physics (don’t ask quantum physics questions), I’ll take questions on anything and everything. The more the merrier.

You can submit questions via Twitter using #2ITBmailbag or by emailing me at

Max/@markoLWOS – Where do you stand on Sam Reinhart? Also,,,,, Nick Baptiste, Justin Bailey. You gotta sign one and trade the other.

I’m a big fan of Reinhart. I think he’s an incredible passer of the puck and you can see the cerebral nature that helped make him such a high draft pick. I’m trying not to get intoxicated with his current hot streak because the Sabres need to make a lot of changes and I don’t think anyone on the roster not named Jack Eichel should be immune from trade consideration.

We’ve been in this place so many times before, where we hmm and haw over whether or not a player will blossom elsewhere should he be traded. Look no further than Tyler Ennis or Marcus Foligno for prime examples.

As for Baptiste vs. Bailey, I think we’ve seen that Baptiste has a bit more versatility up and down the lineup and he possesses the type of speed the Sabres sorely lack. Being meme-able is an added bonus. Bailey has probably run into a bit of bad luck with his recalls but each seem to end with the coaching staff saying they needed him to show more consistency. So today, I’d keep Baptiste and ship out Bailey.

Joe/@buffalowins – He’s gonna be gone, but if you were a GM of a team, would you give Kane 7+ million a year?

I think the market dictates that he’d be due about that much given his production and age. We all know the rumors about Kane’s reputation and it’s probably safe to assume that will affect his market value, so maybe he winds up closer to $6 or $6.5m.

My decision on Kane would be based on two things, cap space and the nature of my locker room. If I have the space and I feel that I have a group that won’t get distracted  (if that’s even really a thing regarding Kane) upon his arrival, then I’d absolutely have an appetite for a player of Kane’s ilk.

AJ/@aj_feldman – What does ROR’s best few games happening with Eichel out say about ROR, Eichel, and the coaching staff?

Probably nothing. O’Reilly has been pretty solid for well over a month now, even longer than that actually. In his first 25 games he had seven goals and 16 points. Since December 1, he has 11 goals and 27 points in 31 games played. So it’s far more likely the strong games against Colorado and Tampa were just a continuation of a really nice run of play that O’Reilly has been on for almost two months.

Joe/@joehockeysabres – Did you ever hear why There was no Andreychuk ceremony on Tuesday? Was it just a schedule issue or was it something deeper?

I’m not sure if there’s any precedent for honoring Hall of Fame inductees, especially if they’re with another organization. So I really have no idea if they missed an opportunity or not. Andreychuk was already elected to the Sabres Hall of Fame a few years ago and that came with a very tasteful ceremony. In the case of going above and beyond, they could have put something together and they would’ve scored some great PR points. But I’m not even sure if Andreychuk made this trip. I assume he did but I didn’t to see for sure if he was in town for the game. If he was here, the team definitely could’ve curried some favor by putting together a quick tribute.

Mike/@mikewdee – If the Sabres’ draft position isn’t high enough to pick someone that’s very clearly the best available player, do you pick a d-man no matter what or pick the best available?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Mainly because recent history has shown us that the Draft Lottery is just a house of horrors. The numbers say the Sabres are far more likely to end up picking second or later than they are to be picking first. That means considering players other than Rasmus Dahlin and that’s where it gets tricky from a Sabres perspective.

Can they afford to keep stocking up forwards without investing a high value pick on a defenseman? If the Sabres are in the top three it will be really hard to pass up Filip Zadina or Andrei Svechnikov in favor of one of the defensemen. Fourth overall might be the trickiest pick of the top 10 for this exercise since Dahlin, Zadina and Svechnikov are likely off the board but the next wave is sitting there waiting for you to shape the rest of the top 10. I’m not as high on Brady Tkachuk as everyone else, so I’d have no issue picking Adam Boqvist over the forward. If they’re anywhere between five and ten they won’t catch much heat for selecting a defenseman over a forward unless one of the top prospects falls unexpectedly.

Kevin/@kevinpalmer – Do Sabres fans, specifically on some prospect focused boards, overrate the potential of Cliff Pu?

I think every fan base does this. Just look at the trade proposals on HF Boards or Cap Friendly, every fan thinks their guys are the best guys but your guys are crap. It doesn’t help that Sabres fans have so much desperation for some of these draft picks to actually develop and for the team to turn things around. Scoring 86 points probably doesn’t help for tempering expectations either.

On the whole I think Sabres fans are creating an unrealistic expectation for him. He looked very good in the preseason action he got into and his speed is going to be an asset. Pair that with his big year in 16-17 and it’s a recipe for big expectations. That being said, I think he’s a very valuable piece for them right now so I’m okay with some overrating because his post-draft play has justified it.

Also Kevin/@kevinpalmer Should we be that excited about the progress in Rochester when most of the heavy lifting is being done by AHL vets, not actual prospects?

Yes. Even though it’s not a prospect-fest down there, three (or four if you count Casey Nelson) Sabres prospects have been driving the bus. Linus Ullmark continues to grow, CJ Smith has been a revelation and Brendan Guhle is driving things on the back end. I’m also a big believer in the culture/winning atmosphere stuff you hear about regarding the minors. It’s cliché and real ardent numbers guys will say it’s all make believe, but there’s something to be said about having the right groundwork set within the organization. And if that’s a side effect of Rochester’s success, I say bring it on.

Stev/@saltystev – If Lehner is traded, do we get a goalie back to keep Ullmark in the AHL?

Jason Botterill has been bullish on building a winner in Rochester. Look no further than allowing CJ Smith, Brendan Guhle and Ullmark to play almost the entire season there without a recall. Using that as the barometer for his approach, I’d assume we’d either see the Sabres acquire another goaltender on an expiring contract or see Jonas Johnasson recalled from Cincinatti to play in tandem with Chad Johnson.

I prefer the latter of the two, as it not only gives us, as fans, a look at Johansson but Sabres management as well. The Amerks do have a couple of longer breaks down the home stretch in which the Sabres play, so there would be room to give Ullmark a handful more games at the NHL level without leaving the Amerks without their starter.

Don’t forget, you can submit questions via Twitter using #2ITBmailbag or by emailing me at 

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