Exploring Buffalo’s Options for Expansion

The last two weeks of action hasn’t just put the Sabres in a better position to contend in the Eastern Conference this season, Tim Murray’s moves have also made his potential expansion moves more obvious.

Entering the offseason the likelihood of Murray adding at least one significant body at forward and perhaps another on the blueline made handicapping Buffalo’s expansion options difficult. There were too many holes and too many question marks to nail down throughout the summer. Now that Kyle Okposo and Dmitri Kulikov are officially Sabres, pinning down exactly who Tim Murray will protect is a little bit easier.

Vegas’ selections will become official on June 21 of next summer although with their choices being made on the 20th you can probably count on hearing a few leaks ahead of time. The rules have found their way into the public’s hands as the process progressed and if you aren’t already familiar with the NHL Expansion Draft rules, you can find them here.

For the most part, the Sabres are in a very advantageous position heading into next summer’s expansion draft. The exemption of first and second year pros means the likes of Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart won’t need to be exposed. This concession actually rules out over a half-dozen forwards who are under contract with the Sabres moving forward, a significant number which provides flexibility when it comes to the players who will be eligible to be selected. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 5.7 – Breaking Down Okposo and the Sabres Remaining Offseason Moves

We’re back to break down the Buffalo Sabres’ signing of Kyle Okposo, acquiring Anders Nilsson and the trio of AHL deals made by Tim Murray. We also take a look at the next steps Murray will be taking as the summer progresses. You can find The Instigator Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher by following the links.

Inside the Numbers: Mike Hoffman, Offer Sheet Target

The NHL Draft has come and gone and free agency is on the horizon. The Buffalo Sabres and Tim Murray made a move with the Florida Panthers to kick off day two of the draft that evened out their defense ranks, bringing in Dmitry Kulikov and shipping out Mark Pysyk.

Shifting our focus from the defense, the Sabres need to add a top six winger to provide a desperately needed shot in the arm offensively. Last season, despite the 27 point improvement  from 2014-2015, Buffalo still ranked in the bottom five in even strength GF%, GF, and GF in all situations. That kind of offensive production won’t let you sniff a playoff spot, let alone contend once you make it.  Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 5.6 – Talking Kulikov, Pysyk and Sabres Free Agency with Matthew Coller

This week we are joined by Matthew Coller of WGR 550 to discuss the aftermath of the Dmitri Kulikov/Mark Pysyk trade from both an on-ice and analytical perspective. We also jump into options for the Sabres on the free agent market as the opportunity to acquire Steven Stamkos, Kyle Okposo or others looms for Friday.

Thanks again to Matthew for joining us for this episode. As always, you can catch the podcast below or tune in via Sticher or on iTunes as well.

 

The Curious Case of the Third Round Picks Buffalo Shipped Away

The third round of the NHL Draft is hardly an electrifying portion of the event. The picks all hold fair value on the floor and in trade negotiations, but in either case you’re not referring to any blockbuster moves.

However, the Buffalo Sabres’ own involvement in the 2016 third round was actually somewhat interesting. Not so much for the picks they made, but for the ones which found their way to other teams.

At one point or another, the Sabres held five picks in this year’s third round. Buffalo would only wind up making a pair of selections in the round after entering the weekend with a trio of picks. Cliff Pu would be selected 69th (nice) and Casey Fitzgerald 86th while the other three selections previously held by the Sabres found their way to other cities. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast on Stitcher

For those who use devices other than iPhones, we wanted to make sure to give you the ability to tune into The Instigator as well. Among the other apps available to you for podcast enjoyment, we have tapped into Stitcher as well. Now, in addition to the iTunes store and this site, you can listen to the podcast direct through Stitcher. Hit this link to catch up on all the episodes.

Sabres Free Agent Targets – Forwards

A quiet draft weekend from Tim Murray may leave the Sabres GM as a more active player in the free agent shopping spree this summer. He indicated as much after the draft, although even had Murray netted more than just Dmitri Kulikov over the weekend it seems as if he still would have been a player in free agency this summer.

There has been plenty of talk about Steven Stamkos and the Sabres’ role as a player for the star. However, Stamkos will come with a hefty cap hit that may actually be better spent elsewhere. The Sabres will and should still take a long, hard look at Stamkos given the skill he possesses and the resume he boasts. But there are plenty of other quality options available to explore. Here’s a list of some of the players I could see Murray extending offers to this year. Continue reading