Two in the Mailbox – Draft Day Mailbag

There’s a ton of scuttlebutt about dealing O’Reilly, if the third overall pick is actually in play and we have official word that the Sabres are in the goalie market after confirming Robin Lehner won’t be back.

So here’s a quick pre-draft mailbag to whet your appetite ahead of this evening.

Matt/@matt_hervan – Where are the deals?

I don’t know, Matt. But I’m getting sick of waiting.

Ron/@Ehlanded – For fun, if Buffalo had the third pick in draft and not first, who would the fans be clamoring to draft?

The debate would be between Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk. Quinn Hughes would be part of the debate as well but I reckon those two would be getting the most attention. Zadina, as the deadly sniper who has the look of a perennial 30 or 40-goal scorer, is the tantalizing prospect who would slot in beautifully with Jack Eichel or Casey Mittelstadt. Tkachuk is the power forward who some segment of fans feel is the missing piece for the Sabres and offers the ability to play throughout the lineup. Both impressed at the World Junior Championship but Tkachuk seemed to really catch the eye of Sabres fans playing off Mittelstadt.

I don’t think it would have been a very enjoyable debate to endure as Zadina probably gives the Sabres the greatest return, Tkachuk is one of the few prospects who could play in the NHL right away but his numbers at BU would raise red flags for those who look to pre-draft production as a predictor of success. Meanwhile, Hughes is the guy who would address the need for a mobile, puck moving defenseman. It would have been a headache inducing debate which would’ve featured second guessing after the fact. So I’m very pleased that we didn’t need to deal with it.

Kyle/@Kgunn_taylor – More exciting should both happen: Trading for MTL #3 or new 3rds?

By default the answer is trading for the third overall pick. But that’s because there’s a lot of reports that the Sabres won’t have an alternate jersey this year. Even if there was a new third jersey being released this year I’d still side with the pick. Two top-three picks would be a ton of fun.

@dhop2007 – Does McCabe for EDM’s 10th pick make sense? What would it take in a trade to get Gustav Nyquist (#32 & Bailey)?

I think you’re probably overvaluing the Sabres side in both of these deals. The Oilers are going to be looking for a guy who is a true top-four defenseman and McCabe isn’t there yet. If the Oilers are dealing 10th to Buffalo it would be for Rasmus Ristolainen.

On Nyquist, I suppose that second round pick would interest the Wings but I’m really not sure how they value Nyquist overall. My guess is that the Sabres would need to fork over a more valuable prospect than Bailey in that type of deal.

Eric @realshiarpie – Do you see McCabe moving?

Yes, I do. I’m not sure who Botterill would target with him but when you look at Buffalo’s blueline McCabe is the one guy who offers a fair bit of value and is also expendable from a depth perspective.

Everyone knows the Sabres are overloaded with left shot defensemen. Dahlin, who has played both sides, Scandella, McCabe, Beaulieu, Guhle and Pilut are all going to be vying for NHL minutes. Obviously Dahlin is untouchable, Guhle is pretty much untouchable as well. Pilut is brand new and Scandella is pivotal enough to the top four leads me to believe he’d be very difficult to acquire. That leaves Beaulieu and McCabe and of the two, McCabe is far more valuable at this point and with five other lefties on the roster, he’d be a departure the Sabres could handle.

Mike/@spikegelato – Who are your top 3 options for starting goalies and how much would you give up for each one?

This is a tough one. I tweeted this today but I’m still on board with finding another young, up-and-coming goalie who can pair up with Ullmark and split a 40-game workload with him. That creates the potential for some instability but I think it creates the greatest potential for long term success beyond this season.

But given that Botterill wants Ullmark to be eased into the role, finding someone who will probably come closer to a 45/35-game split, with Ullmark getting the smaller slice of the pie, seems to be the target.

My preference is that the Sabres look to free agency since they wouldn’t need to give anything up to land one of those goalies. Jonathan Bernier is my preferred choice of that group but I think Jaroslav Halak or Kari Lehtonen would be fairly acceptable. Bernier would be a steady presence while the other two would be far more boom or bust, but all three would help bridge the gap for Ullmark.

The trade market is tough to gauge since some of these guys are moving targets. Cam Talbot is reported to be on the block and he has a 10-team trade list so I assume the Sabres aren’t an option. I also think the Oilers would be looking to recoup some assets which the Sabres aren’t in a position to surrender on a guy who is only under contract for one more year. There are also conflicting reports regarding his availability so he’s probably not an option. But in a vacuum, he’s a guy I’d love to see them get.

Craig Anderson is probably the most available veteran at this point as it’s been reported that he desires to move on from Ottawa. I suspect that his price would be quite low given his fairly large cap hit ($4.75m) and the down year he had. Plus the Senators couldn’t haggle at a garage sale at this point, so the price could be quite low. He’d be a perfect stopgap as well. He has two years left on his deal and the Sabres could easily transition him from a 45/35 split to a timeshare where Ullmark is getting the majority of the work. Once his deal expires you say thank you and walk away. One interesting wrinkle with Anderson is that he’s alternated being a world beater or a sieve on a year to year basis. If that trend continues he’s due for another bounce back year.

The last guy I’ll mention is Thomas Greiss. Kris Baker mentioned Greiss during his morning hit on WGR but he’s a guy I’ve been curious about going back to last fall. He regressed badly this year and the Isles are likely looking for a way out from under his contract.  He makes a palatable $3.33m for the next two years and if he gets a bit more help he could revert to the goalie of the two years prior to 2017-18. Just getting 2016-17 Thomas Greiss would be an ideal fit alongside Ullmark anything more would be a bonus.

The caveat with Anderson and Griess is that both are goalies their current teams would likely be looking to get out from under and you may be able to take advantage of that fact. If you’re lucky, you might get another asset as a discounted rate because you agreed to take one of those contracts off the books.

Phil/@philbony – [On the  Ryan O’Reilly rumors]What are odds another GM is that desperate? Anybody/package in return you particularly like?

I just did a post on how dealing O’Reilly will shape the offseason and there are a few very interesting routes Botterill could take.

Because of O’Reilly’s tremendous on-ice value, I think it’s really important that the Sarbes either find cover for his loss or get a really hearty return of multiple NHL players or NHL ready prospects.

My preferred destination for O’Reilly has long been Carolina. This goes back to the deadline when I felt they could build a deal around Justin Faulk and other pieces to really bolster their blueline. But now Elias Lindholm has been floated in trade rumors and if there’s a deal to be made that involves Lindholm, Faulk and perhaps one additional piece. This is a deal that would drop on July 2, since the Canes don’t want to pay that bonus money but that bit of charity might even ratchet up the return to include another piece – either a pick or maybe a prospect.

The other thing I’d consider is what the Sabres could add to that trade to pull yet another legitimate body from Carolina. Does Jake McCabe bring back another impressive asset? Would a forward prospect help pull someone significant? If there’s a team I want to see a deal for O’Reilly made with it’s Carolina.


That does it for the mailbag. Here’s hoping some trades drop over the next few hours and the Sabres reap the rewards of at least one of them.

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