Two in the Mailbox – Potential Lines and Pairings, Risto Workload and Very Bad Trades

Two in the Mailbox, the (sometimes) weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing

A quick note before we begin this week. Now that the Sabres are completely done and the offseason questions are circling the same topics, the mailbox will probably come out every other week or perhaps even take a brief hiatus as more Sabres-related topics come back into focus once the playoffs wrap up. And now, to the questions.

Roy/@roy_harr – Even though I know this is a fruitless exercise without all the off-season transactions/potential trades, but if they win the top spot and get Dahlin, what do you project the D pairings as? Same question with forward lines if sabres win 2nd and take Svechnikov?

The defense is pretty simple. Dahlin steps in to a top-four role, possibly even top-pair and the rest of the depth chart basically gets bumped back one from there. The unknown factor is which other players Botterill brings in to bolster the blue line. Is he able to sign Calvin de Haan, does he swing a big trade? That’s probably a bigger mystery than Dahlin because you’re going to know Buffalo’s fate as it pertains to Dahlin by the end of the month. It’s not so black and white with the other additions they might make.

But going with what we know now, you’d have to assume the pairs would be something like this:


I’d have a tougher time projecting the lines since there’s no guarantee that Svechnikov or even Zadina would be stepping right into an NHL job. It may be preferable for Botterill and Housley to let those two linger in junior for another season and develop at a measured pace. There’s also the problem of free agent signings up front. So I’ll leave any additional moves out and just work off their current depth chart with Svechnikov added in:

Svechninkov-Eichel-Okposo/Wilson-O’Reilly-Reinhart/Smith-Mittelstadt-Baptiste/Girgensons-Rodrigues-Pominville (Larsson)

Much of that is very much subject to change. There are absolutely trades coming and I’m betting on at least three changes being made to the forwards before any additional free agents are inserted. So put four asterisks on all four of those lines above.

Mike/@spikegelato – How many of the top 4 picks in the draft are NHL-ready?

This isn’t exactly my area of expertise and is probably best left to the likes of Kris Baker, Corey Pronman and others who are deep in the prospect game. Dahlin is obviously a prize unlike many others and will be on an NHL roster come fall. I think it’s likely that Svechnikov has an NHL job and that if Filip Zadina winds up on a team desperate for wing help that he too would be deemed NHL ready. But if you’re asking more pragmatic or patient general managers, they would probably say Dahlin is the only one.

Eric/@chirperic — You’ve talked about Risto being great in international play, will we never see that player until he gets his minutes capped? He’s at his best when he’s active and carrying the puck in deep. How can we expect him to do that when he’s at 26 minutes a night?

This has been a conversation for at least two offseasons now. Ristolainen’s numbers are not befitting of a true number one and rolling back his minutes would conceivably result in a more effective and well-rested player. Ristolainen has shown just how good he can be on a more complete team, which leaves reason for hope that Ristolainen could be part of the solution if the Sabres can fill out the roster around him.

Short of winning the lottery being the quick fix for throttling Risto’s ice time, a blockbuster trade is probably the only route to finding the help they need to give Ristolainen that type of respite. And when it comes to swinging a big deal there’s a distinct possibility that Ristolainen is involved. I’d hate to say this might be a case of Dahlin or bust, but it’s pretty darn close to being the case.

Jacob/@jpjones52 – If the Sabres finally get lucky and can get Dahiln, what kind of turnaround can be expected?

I don’t think any sort of Colorado or New Jersey-like turnaround are in order. The Sabres will likely have a new tandem in goal and still have plenty of holes to fill up front. So thinking Dahlin is the magic elixir is probably short sighted. I’ve also grown cynical enough of their general outlook to cast dispersions on any glint of hope after two years of regression.

It would likely be something similar to Eichel’s rookie season where he and the new additions helped bouy a weak team but didn’t do enough to push them into playoff contention. Should that be the case, we’d all be looking at 2019-20 as the year they take the next serious stride towards contending.

Very Bad Trades

I found an incredibly bizarre Armchair GM which I felt was so crazy that it had to be an attempt at trolling. There’s no way even an illogical person thinks this is realistic.

So that leads me to this entry from Shibbai18 who seems to make this segment no matter how hard I try to look elsewhere. People. Bad Sabres players are not going to bring back good ones from other teams. Get the net.

Beaulieu for Hagelin? That Ottawa trade?!!?!?!?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s