Two in the Mailbox: Top-Six Wing Targets and Risto’s Return

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

I was WAY overdue for this edition of the mailbox but my procrastinating is done. Hopefully it’s up long enough before any of the information gets dated by the trade deadline. If I was better at this I would’ve posted this at least a day or two ago.

With that said, here are the questions for this edition.

Tim Goodier – Rest of his tenure aside, how big of a misstep is a lack of moves from Botterill this season? Especially when you consider his wants (guys with term) are and have been available and even a deadline move may be too late after dropping six points to NYR, NJD, FLA and being six back?

Tim’s view might be a little different in the wake of the Brandon Montour trade but Botterill’s decision to stay patient until the weekend of the deadline has been criticized by a lot of people as the season slips away. I give him credit for sticking to his guns. He didn’t get desperate and paid a fair price for a player who fits exactly what he was hoping to acquire.

We can’t be sure what offers were on the table a week or even a month ago. Maybe the Ducks were asking for two picks and a prospect. There’s no way to definitively say that he was doing nothing as the Sabres slipped in the standings though their inaction was absolutely frustrating but also understandable given the balancing act he’s stuck with in terms of refilling their pipeline while trying to keep the NHL roster afloat.

The Montour trade ought to quiet most of the fervor over his inaction, though questioning whether or not he could have acted sooner will remain. I’m okay with where he stands ahead of today’s deadline. He got a young guy who should help for the foreseeable future and he still has a pair of firsts to help refill the pipeline.

Jason/@jasonlindhurst – Rumors swirling with Andre Burakovsky to Buffalo, what’s your ideal scenario to get him here?  

The advertised price for Burakovsky was multiple mid-round picks. Second and third rounders. The Sabres aren’t overflowing with those at the moment and to have zero second and third rounders over the next two seasons wouldn’t be ideal.

I wonder if the price on Burakovsky has gone down at all as the deadline approaches, but he’s still an RFA so they don’t have to do anything with him. They’re also right at 50 contracts, so they may be sticking to their guns on picks over players. But, I think using one of their surplus defensemen to lower the cost of picks would be how I’d see them grab Burakovsky. Only issue with that is the Caps probably got their depth defenseman in acquiring Nick Jensen.

One other avenue they maybe try to follow: get another mid-round selection for Nathan Beaulieu and use that pick in the package sent to Washington. But I don’t think the Sabres are getting a third for him (what they sent to Montreal), so there’s no clear path to acquiring Burakovsky. Although there wasn’t necessarily a clear path to acquiring Montour either.

Josh/jscardina23 – How do I mute the words “Housley” and “Pilut” on this god forsaken website?

Good news for Josh is that Pilut was sent down since he posed this question and I don’t think he’ll be up in the near future with Montour being acquired and a full stable of lefties once Marco Scandella gets healthy.

Thing is, Pilut has been pretty good and pulling him in and out of the lineup has been frustrating to watch. His pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen did some good things, helping to ease Ristolainen’s typically overloaded possession metrics at times. Pilut definitely fell victim to being front and center on some really glaring goals against. I thought he did well defending for an undersized guy, but there were still lapses which really stood out. There are things for him to clean up but he’s definitely part of the future on Buffalo’s left side. Not much to worry about in the long-term in my opinion.

Jayson/@jaysoncanfield – The Sabres haven’t won a game since the Ed Kilgore fiasco. Is it possible this is entirely Ed’s fault?

Yes. Absolutely yes. Just like RJ’s “scary good” call at the end of the winning streak. Capital and Lowercase Ed cursed the Sabres more than they were before the Twitter spat began. I’m just not sure how they get past this.

@jmm057 – Targets for moving Risto in a deal similar in structure to Hanifin for Dougie?

I think so, yes. Ristolainen isn’t a guy you just trade for futures and getting him into a deal similar to that Flames/Hurricanes deal last summer. I felt the players the Hurricanes sent to Calgary would’ve been a great package in exchange for Ryan O’Reilly at the time, so following that same thread would be ideal if it ever comes time to deal Ristolainen.

In the couple of hours that Andy Strickland’s report was floating around Twitter, the package of JT Miller and Eric Cernak from Tampa would make a lot of sense from a Buffalo perspective. Cernak is only 21 and a big, right handed defenseman who would ideally grow into some of Ristolainen’s minutes. Miller is a 25-year-old center, signed through 2023 who has back-to-back 50-point seasons to his credit. He’ll flirt with 50 points again this year although it seems unlikely he breaks 20 goals for a fourth-straight season, his production early in his career has been strong. A package along those lines – quality second center who can step in now plus a young defenseman who could replace Ristolainen’s impact as he progresses – would be a pretty good outcome.

Daniel/@danielzielinski – If you could make a realistic trade to add a right winger to play with Jack and Skinner, who would it be? 

Burakovsky is one of the few guys who has been floated as a trade chip who I think makes sense for the Sabres given his age and contract status. Kasperi Kapanen might wind up as the odd man out in Toronto once the dust settles on their big contracts. No guarantee in that regard and the price to trade him within the division would probably be higher than elsewhere. But a 22-year-old burner with 18 goals would look tremendous on their wing as well. Not sure if Kapanen is realistic, but he’d be a terrific target.

One other name I’ll put out there is Rickard Rakell. I’m one-for-one when it comes to begging for the Sabres to grab a player from the soon-to-be-rebuilding Ducks, why not make it two? Rakell wouldn’t come cheap but, like JT Miller in the question above, he has term on his contract at a very affordable hit. His production is way down this year but he’s coming off back-to-back 30-goal seasons and at 25 there’s a lot of tread left on his tires.

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