The Instigator Podcast 10.5 – Opening Night for the NHL on ESPN

We celebrate and discuss the opening night for ESPN and the NHL as the pair are officially together once again. We discuss some of the new features released in the days leading up to the season and the encouraging outlook from the first night of their broadcast. We also touch on the Sabres post-camp roster and have an in-depth conversation about where JJ Peterka should be playing.

The Instigator Podcast Episode 10.4 – NHL Season Preview with a Twist

We tried a slightly different approach with our season preview pod. Instead of trying to fit every team into the allotted time, we picked a few standout stories we think could surprise fans should they play out this season. We also serve up an update on Jack Eichel and run down the latest outlook on the Sabres roster as the season opener approaches.

The Definitive Hockey Jersey Number Rankings

What number you wear can often be a big part of a player’s hockey identity. Some players care more than others about the number they don, but even for those who are indifferent to them, those numbers help connect players with young fans and can even have sentimental value. Like it or not, numbers are a big part of what can make this game great.

Of course, some numbers are better than others. This is especially true in hockey where the history of certain numbers carries with it a certain folklore that others lack. Think of Vladislav Tretiak and his disciples wearing 20 in the crease or how number 19 became synonymous with Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada. Hockey numbers are part of the sport’s lore and the good ones deserved to be honored.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.36 – The NHL is Returning to the Olympics

The NHL will be back at the Olympic games for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. We chat about the return of NHL players after missing the last cycle and what this means for the league. We talk about the pros and cons of the agreement and what long term opportunities are being missed due to the limitations in place between the NHL, IOC and IIHF. We also touch on the new contracts for Casey Mittelstadt and Henri Jokiharju and wrap up the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet saga.

The Instigator Podcast 9.33 – Waiting on an Eichel Deal

There was another twist in the Jack Eichel saga this past week as his agents issued a fairly strong statement and his doctor made an appearance on the 31 Thoughts Podcast. We dive in on where the trade winds are pushing Buffalo’s captain and try and handicap the current teams thought to be in the race.

We also look into Buffalo’s free agency spending and what sort of outlook the team has in the wake of a fairly active, but low-spend opening day of free agency.

The Instigator Podcast 9.32 – Breaking Down a Wild Draft Weekend

We’re back with a longer episode this week as there was a lot of action from the draft to dig into. Not only do we discuss Buffalo’s picks but offer up our favorites of Kevyn Adams’ class of 2021. The big topics were the pair of trades the Sabres made; sending Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. We provide a quick update on where the Eichel sweepstakes stand and close the show with a bit of conversation on free agency.

The Instigator Podcast 9.31 – Expansion and NHL Draft Breakdown

Sandwiching this episode between the Expansion Draft and NHL Draft left us with quite a bit to talk about. We break down Seattle’s selections and their lack of side deals. We also run down the players the Sabres will have under consideration at first overall but also at the top of the second round. We close up the show with a brief Jack Eichel update and a quick rundown of Thursday’s trades.

Listen to “The Instigator Podcast 9.31 – Expansion Draft and NHL Draft Breakdown” on Spreaker.

Building a Seattle Expansion Roster

The benefit of Vegas and Seattle’s entry to the league (besides the $500 expansion fees) has been the added intrigue they bring to the offseason. The debate over Carey Price has dominated the conversation over the past week, but there’s plenty of intrigue to come as Seattle makes their selections on Wednesday.

Like every other person who has access to Cap Friendley and discusses hockey on the internet, I took a shot at my own Seattle expansion roster. This is not a mock expansion draft in the truest sense of the world. I didn’t draft this from the perspective of what I think Seattle will do, so don’t interpret this as predictive. I built this roster as I would if I were running Seattle’s draft, with a couple of notable exceptions (Chris Driedger, for example). A couple of additional notes. First, I didn’t take into account any expansion deals that may be struck between Seattle and other teams. I didn’t want to go too far into fantasy land, so I left out any of those side deals which may protect some notable players that have been left exposed. I will add some notes along the way where I feel side deals could be struck, however. This is just how I’d draft for Seattle given the players that were left exposed around the league. I also followed the rules set forth by the league for the draft. That means 30 selections, a minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen and three goalies and all between 60 and 100 percent of the cap.

My aim was to craft a team that would have the talent to compete early, and with a little luck pull off something close to what Vegas did in 2017-18. But I also worked to select younger players who were still bordering on prospect status. Specifically higher draft picks who haven’t popped at the NHL level yet but can still offer some longer-term promise. In the end I wound up with 15 players age 25 or under, a cap hit of $63.4 million prior to free agency and roughly $17 million to re-sign RFAs and make other moves down the line.

The picks are arranged by team, alphabetically.

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Two in the Mailbox: Number Changes and Offseason Targets

The expansion draft is less than 48 hours away and there will be ample time for another flurry of trades between Thursday and Friday’s first round. As we sit on the precipice of the next opportunity for the league’s GMs to swing some deals, it felt like a good time to run out another mailbag. With that said, let’s jump into your questions.

@donmanski – Do we still expect to see the Sabres have more than 1 top 10 pick in the draft? I thought it was attached to Reinhart going to Columbus but can’t recall where I was it.

You never want to set too high of an expectation that a pair of NHL GMs are going to do anything. But I’ll say that the original report was fairly definitive, so there’s almost certainly some truth to it. It comes down to whether or not the Sabres pull the trigger on a Jack Eichel or Sam Reinhart trade on either Thursday or Friday. Those are the two guys most likely to fetch the Sabres that extra top-10 pick, so that’s the chatter to watch.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.30 – Expansion Considerations

It’s only Tuesday and it’s been a big week in the NHL as Duncan Keith was traded to the Edmonton Oilers and the Minnesota Wild bought out the contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. We break down each of those moves and what it means for the respective teams involved. We also tackle Buffalo’s expansion outlook and offer up our thoughts on who we expect the Sabres to protect and who we hope the Sabres will protect for next week’s expansion draft.