The Sabres pushed their point streak to six games and improved to 8-3-2 in the month of March. We discuss how the continued success of the team could potentially cloud the longer term needs when it comes to making sure the Sabres take the next step in their rebuild. Namely, we discuss the discourse around Craig Anderson and where the team would be had he been healthy for the entire year.
Also on the show is a discussion over the new Buffalo Bills stadium deal and highlights from the NHL GM meetings.
In honor of the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s time once again to take a few reader questions.
I’m looking forward to Monday’s deadline as I think the Sabres are poised to move at least two or three players off the roster. And there’s potential for even more moves both out and in. Unless Kevyn Adams makes zero moves on Moday, it will be hard to say it was an underwhelming deadline.
As we touched on this week’s podcast, I’m hopeful that Adams will bring in a player who will be in Buffalo not just for the final weeks of the season, but well into the future. A younger player, ideally with term, who could add to the growing confidence over what Adams and the Sabres are trying to build. That’s easier said than done, but it wouldn’t be the first time the organization brought in a notable piece for the future at the deadline. Here’s hoping the next one comes on Monday.
Before we get to the questions, we should celebrate the beauty of the Armchair GM submissions on CapFriendly. It’s been far too long since we shared any of these, so let’s make up for lost time with some Very Bad Trades.
A few thoughts here. First, Kaapo Kahkonen has had a decent season for the Wild but he hasn’t yet risen to the level of a number one goalie. Marcus Foligno has also carved out a very valuable role in Minnesota, so the idea that just Casey Mittelstadt (whose has been very underwhelming when not injured) could fetch you both of these players is silly. Yet, that deal is trumped by the following offer of the Arizona Coyotes offering a first and a third for Victor Olofsson and recent healthy scratch, Anders Bjork. I’m not sure how to arrive at that particular valuation, but it seems…inaccurate. Olofsson ought to have some value this summer (or at the deadline) but Bjork’s value will have cratered and while the Coyotes do need players on contracts, they also desperately need draft capital.
Sure, I guess. There are other players in the NHL though. We don’t always have to do Pat Kane.
There really was never going to be much of a question over where the Bills new stadium was going to be built. While the conversation over a downtown or Orchard Park site was a valuable one to have, the die was cast when the Bills released their report indicating their preference to build in Orchard Park.
“Concerned” downtown developers can turn their attention to other causes now that Governor Hochul said the state will accept the Bills’ preferred site across Abbott Rd. in Orchard Park. The Pegulas held the hammer on this and barring extraordinary circumstances, the state and county were always going to play ball with regard to where they wanted to build (humorous as it may be considering they’re asking the public to pay for so much of this project).
Maintaining the status quo in Orchard Park is a fine conclusion to this process. The Bills can continue to play next door to their training facilities and offices, the fans get to keep tailgating and the price tag will be slightly more palatable for all parties involved. A more streamlined construction schedule and lower land acquisition costs all add up as positive factors for a new stadium in Orchard Park.
The limitations of a suburban stadium will remain as well. Below average access and limited offseason uses being chief among them.
We certainly don’t lose anything with the construction of a new stadium in Orchard Park. But we don’t really gain anything either, and I think that’s the one lasting question I’ll have once the new building is finished. What, if anything, will we have missed by not building in the city? There are many, many issues at play, but there are a few overarching topics which probably needed more attention than they got.
We’re back in the podcast saddle and tackling the news of Jack Eichel’s agency switch. We discuss the implications of Eichel switching agents to NHL power broker Pat Brisson last week. Also on the docket is the Carolina Hurricanes offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi and how the Canadiens may handle that situation. We wrap up with a Bills stadium update as more news broke on that front as we recorded.
Tim Graham joined the show this week for an in-depth conversation on the state of the Bills stadium negotiations and where the process will be headed in the coming weeks and months. We touch on the public statements and reports coming from both sides of the process along with offering up some thoughts on how the process is going and how messy it’s been. We even have a little fun discussing the future of the project and what features may or may not make the cut when the new building is complete.
The Josh Allen Experience has been, well, an experience.
Everything surrounding his drafting and the start of his career has been rife with debate. It was pretty evident the Bills were going to move on from Tyrod Taylor after the 2017 season with a mind on drafting a quarterback of the future that spring. And right from the get-go, the process was a fight.
I was a Tyrod fan but I was on board with moving on from him. It seemed as if they had reached their limit with him under center with an effective but somewhat predictable offense. It felt like the Bills were closer to a Wing-T than the other teams around the league racking up passing yards. Of course, the underlying numbers indicated the offense under Taylor was better than you might’ve assumed, but it still felt like they were limited with him at quarterback. Even in breaking the drought, the toothless attack in Jacksonville served as the final straw for just about everyone who hadn’t already began to look forward.
Knowing that it was likely the Bills would be drafting a quarterback in 2017, I had already begun to look ahead to some of the players they could be targeting. I was fully on board. Using a high draft pick to ideally get a quarterback capable of vaulting the offense into the 21st century was what I’d been waiting for. Thanks to his impressive sophomore year, Josh Allen was my personal favorite entering the 2017 season. But as his play wavered in his junior year, I soured on the thought of him. Especially as a high pick.
So, when it looked more and more obvious that Allen was going to be Buffalo’s pick, I got progressively more disappointed with the decision. Given all of the data available to us, it wasn’t unfair to question whether or not it was a good pick. Yet, very quickly it became a capital crime in the eyes of Bills Mafia to question the new quarterback. An odd wrinkle but not wholly unexpected. You want your guys to do well, right? You want your team to be the one making good decisions, not bad ones. I’m almost always on the side of at least giving the organization (Bills or Sabres) the benefit of the doubt with a hire or a signing or a draft pick. I’d much rather start on the positive side of things as opposed to the negative. But considering the way his play regressed in 2017, I wasn’t sold on the pick. Still, the preposterous amount of piling on for anyone who even dared to mention that maybe we shouldn’t put too much stock into wins over Gardner-Webb or Texas State made this an exhausting endeavor from day one.
I’m not sure if that makes me a critic of his. I certainly didn’t want him to fail, I wasn’t rooting against him. But I wanted to see some proof of concept before buying in. Continue reading →
The Building Buffalo Podcast has been reunited in hopes of making it a semi-regular feature of The Instigator Podcast. Our reunion episode runs through the outlook for the Pegulas and PSE in the wake of hiring CAA Icon to evaluate stadium and arena options for both the Bills and Sabres. We talk about just how precarious public funding will be for each project, how a convention center can compliment and add critical mass and what timeline we’d hope to see PSE follow when it comes to picking one project to start over the other.
This week’s Instigator Interview features Buffalo’s own Polo Kerber of Sole High. Sole High’s popularity has skyrocketed as Polo and his team have become the go-to for custom cleats throughout the NFL. We chat about the customization process, some of Sole High’s more notable NFL clients and an upcoming project they’ve worked on with Alex Ovechkin.
Another Bills season has gone without playoffs and yet another season has ended with an impending search for a new head coach. We’ve all heard this song 17 times over yet there’s no sign that anything will be different this time around.
Yet there’s no sign that the Pegulas are willing to burn down the front office and start fresh.
The only thing different this time around that more questions are being asked of the decision makers at One Bills Drive, not just the failures of the coach. Doug Whaley, Russ Brandon and the Pegulas have come under fire from fans and media alike and while it doesn’t appear as if any serious changes will come, at least the larger issues are being addressed.
I didn’t have high expectations for this season, I didn’t see the Bills as the playoff team some were selling them as, and I certainly didn’t think they had the answers to overcome their shortcomings. Somehow they still managed to fail to meet my expectations. It’s an amazing feat that the Bills can find new and interesting ways to disappoint, but with nearly two decades of practice I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Continue reading →
As you may have heard, the Bills won’t be making the playoffs this year. Entering their week 14 pillowfight matchup with Cleveland, they still have a mathematical chance of qualifying, but for all intents and purposes this season is yet another write off for the Bills.
So, as the playoff drought gets one year closer to legal voting age, I decided to form the Bills All-Drought Team to look back fondly on some of the players who admirably contributed to Buffalo’s playoff plight over the past 17 years.
This practice was inspired by this tweet from my friend Russ, whose friends recently held an impressive 11-round Bills Drought Draft. I decided to put together this little project in a similar vein to the Ultimate Hockey and Football Movie Roster posts I did in previous years. The final product is a 22-man roster along with specialists, general manager, head coach and coordinators that spans the entire length of the Bills’ drought. I was going to include President but there’s really only one choice for that now isn’t there?
My goal was to pick a roster that would best represent the trials, tribulations and ineptitude of the Bills drought. I didn’t want it to simply be a roster of the most random players (of which there are plenty) nor will this be a roster of the worst players (of which there are plenty). Ideally there was to be a mix of good players, average players and downright bad players and I think I did a fair job in accomplishing that. Each position will feature at least one backup (aka honorable mention). In some cases there are multiple backups, that was all dependent on qualified candidates and wealth of choice at certain positions.
Each choice was based on a handful of categories that would go beyond simple on-field contributions. The factors I considered included on field play, off-field activities (positive and negative), career trajectory and their overall impact (expected or actual) on the franchise.