The Instigator Podcast 9.1 – Ready to Roll with the 2020-21 Season

We’re back for season nine and we’re looking ahead to what promises to be another unusual year for the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL. With the announcement of the 56-game season and realigned divisions, we discuss the outlook for the Sabres and the path they’ll need to follow in order to break their playoff drought. We also touch on the World Junior Championship and the Sabres prospects who are likely to be participating in the event this season.

Twitter Homework: Which Group of Sabres Makes the Better Roster?

Mike Schopp asked a great question with the Twitter poll he sent out asking which group of jersey numbers would net the better all-time Sabres team.

It’s a great question which sparks some juicy debate. Do you go with goaltending (20-99) or the bulk of Buffalo’s retired numbers (0-19)? With the poll favoring 0-19, I have a feeling that the quick answer is representative of the first players you can think of within the two sets of digits he provided. It’s easy to come up with The French Connection, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Ramsey and Jack Eichel and go with 0-19 over Dominik Hasek and numbers 20-99.

But I felt with a little digging you’d find that you can form two very well-rounded teams from both sets of numbers. Teams which scope out to be closer than you may have thought initially. So I took it upon myself to dig into the Sabres’ number history and build what I feel are the two best teams from the groups of numbers provided in Schopp’s poll. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast – Reverse Retro Edition

With the NHL’s new Reverse Retro jerseys unveiled, we discuss the best of the best and some of our least favorite designs of the collection. We argue over the quality of the Rangers jersey while expressing our excitement over the Sabres version. We also touch on the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season and the frustrations caused by it.

Sabres Reverse Retro Hits the Bullseye

The butterknives are back. Among the many uniform requests Sabres fans have made in recent years, honoring the black and red era has been near the top of the list. Buffalo’s entry in the NHL’s Reverse Retro program doesn’t bring back the black and red color scheme, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

For years it has seemed like the Pegulas and PSE would rather sell the team before truly acknowledging the era of black and red jerseys. That they’ve resurrected a design from the era certainly bodes well for future endeavors. So long as the proper deadlines are met.

The Reverse Retro alternates that will be worn this year are a fun homage to the third jersey the club released in 2000. The design looks great in the new blue and gold colorway and we even get the added treat of the goathead logo adorning the shoulders.

I’ve been a fan of the team’s original third jersey for a long time, so I’m extremely pleased to see these return to action. The new blue and gold colors translate well to the design and the white base is a welcome choice as the blue and gold stripes work far better than a white and gold stripe would have on a blue jersey. I know the wordmark isn’t very popular with fans but I’ve always been fond of it. And it looks good in blue and gold, so I count that as a win. Continue reading

Ranking the NHL’s Reverse Retro Jersey Collection

The NHL’s newest jersey initiative was formally introduced today, with the Adidas Reverse Retro alternate jersey set unveiled for all 31 teams. The premise was to put a modern spin on a jersey from each team’s history. There doesn’t appear to be any hard and fast rules for how the designs were picked as most put a club’s current colors onto an old design. But others borrow vintage colors or even use throwback designs in the case of the Hurricanes and Avalanche.

It’s a jersey collection that could have easily strayed into questionable territory but taking in all 31 designs, there’s really only a couple which aren’t overly appealing. Perhaps most importantly is what this represents for the league. This is a new take on a jersey program which puts the onus on designs which will be fun for fans to see on the ice and hanging in their closet. This is a big step forward for a league that’s often seen as too boring and conservative. Not to mention it’s going to be an excellent revenue source in a time when any penny earned will go a long way.

Naturally, with a host of new jerseys to enjoy, the only logical course of action is to rank each of the designs. I look forward to hearing how wrong my rankings are in the comments or on social media. Continue reading

Concepts for the Sabres “Reverse Retro” Jersey

In a move akin to the NBA’s recent jersey expansion, the NHL appears set to introduce a new jersey for all 31 teams beginning in the 2020-21 season.

Early reports describe the new jersey set as a “reverse retro” alternate, with some early leaks indicating the direction the league and teams appear to be going with the program. With indications that all 31 teams will be getting their own reverse retro jersey, the league is taking a new tack with regard to the alternate uniform program. The current process allows for teams to utilize a third jersey with rules providing somewhere between 10-15 games that teams may wear their third jersey. Teams also have latitude to utilize a vintage uniform with stricter stipulations on the number of games they can be worn. Continue reading

Sabres Have Options for Upgrades in Rich Goalie Market

Of the may hiccups which have delayed and stalled Buffalo’s rebuild, uncertainty in the goal crease has been almost a near constant. It hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of the struggles which have beset the Sabres as they try to climb back into playoff contention, but it has been an almost ever-present specter.

It would appear that Kevyn Adams has a goaltender on his offseason shopping list, though the path to improving Buffalo’s prospects in net isn’t linear.

Linus Ullmark has transitioned from a prospect to an NHL caliber goaltender since being drafted in 2012. He has been fairly steady for the Sabres over the last two seasons but it would be a stretch to say he truly fits the mold of a starting goaltender in the NHL. He isn’t likely Buffalo’s long term answer in goal but he’s still poised to take the lion’s share of Buffalo’s starts after playing 50% of the team’s games this past year.

Who he shares the crease with is up for debate as Carter Hutton is positioned to remain in Buffalo for the final year of his contract, but his results have been shaky enough to raise questions about how the Sabres can improve the position. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.38 – Draft Round Table Featuring Expected Buffalo

We teamed up with the boys from Expected Buffalo to run through a host of draft-related topics. We discuss our favorite targets, including the likes of Anton Lundell and Marco Rossi and the likelihood that either of those players will be available when the Sabres pick at eight. Additional topics of discussion include our view on how the top of the draft will shake out and which x-factor picks may come up. We close with some bold predictions on both the draft and the rest of Buffalo’s offseason.

Two in the Mailbox – Trade Targets, Goalie Wishlist and More

It’s been a while since the last mailbag ran, so I’ve taken a few extra questions for this edition to make up for lost time. This edition of the mailbag will hit on draft questions, goalie gear, movie recommendations and trade targets.

Hopefully I won’t be as lazy moving forward and there will be more mailbags to come in the weeks to follow. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.37 – Staal Trade and What’s Next for the Sabres

The Eric Staal deal came down about 24 hours after we finished recording our previous episode. So we play a little catchup this week in breaking down the first trade of Kevyn Adams’ tenure. We also touch on the moves being made by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the difficult situation in Arizona and even the hiring of Mike Weber and Adam Mair in Rochester.