The Instigator Podcast 5.32 – Evander Kane, Trade Chip or Building Block?

With Evander Kane’s name still floating around trade chatter in Sabres Nation, Chris and Tyler discuss whether or not moving Kane in exchange for a defenseman serves Buffalo’s short and long term needs. Also on the program: the sudden trouble for the Islanders and Hurricanes and the new news on Vegas’ options at the trade deadline.

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Sabres Rebuild: The Good

Part one of this post appeared yesterday, detailing the negative points of the Buffalo Sabres current rebuild. Part two focuses solely on the good points that are pointing to a promising future.

Amending the mistakes and shortcomings on Buffalo’s roster certainly won’t be an easy feat. Some oversights simply won’t ever be fixed. For example, unless Robin Lehner becomes a Vezina contender or steals a playoff round (or two) it’s unlikely the price Murray paid to acquire him will ever be justified. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a sufficient starter for the club either. That he’s shown to be a capable starter – and that Anders Nilsson has enjoyed a resurgence in a backup role for the Sabres – gives Murray and the Sabres time to evaluate their long-term options.

Both Lehner and Nilsson are restricted and unrestricted free agents, respectively, Lehner has arbitration rights so all signs point to him being retained for at least another season. Nilsson’s play may motivate him to explore the open market for a team offering more money and more minutes, but I’m expecting to see him for at least another year in Buffalo.

While it may pain some fans to read, if either of Buffalo’s goaltenders are likely to move on, it would be Nilsson. Linus Ullmark has turned into a workhorse for the Americans this season, earning AHL All Star honors while facing the most action in the entire league. Ullmark’s development is likely reaching a point to where further AHL action won’t be of much value compared to taking the step into the NHL.

Ullmark’s overall development may ultimately fall short of being a true number one in the NHL as his play in North America has been more than encouraging, but he hasn’t shown the dominance you’d expect to be considered the answer in goal for a franchise. Even still, he’s a young asset for the Sabres to utilize and taking over the backup role next year seems to be the next logical step.

That isn’t to say that retaining Nilsson shouldn’t be done. He’s played very well for the Sabres this year and will likely record career best numbers at the NHL level. He’s proven himself as a viable option in net capable of maybe taking on a larger workload in tandem with Lehner.

Buffalo’s long term outlook in net isn’t as bright as other teams around the league as Cal Petersen and Jonas Johansson are the only non-contract assets in the pipeline at the moment. Johansson is still plying his craft in Sweden and likely won’t make the jump to North America for at least another year. Continue reading

Sabres Rebuild: The Bad and The Ugly

An interesting story line has begun to emerge as the Sabres have struggled to move past the improvements made during the 2015-16 season.

With the team stuck in roughly the same spot they ended 2016 in, more fans are questioning the moves made by Tim Murray in an attempt to turn the Sabres from the basement dwelling fixer upper he inherited to the Cup contending team the fans and ownership are so desperate to see.

Due to a host of reasons, many self-inflicted, the lack of serious progress has raised questions ranging from the GM’s ability to evaluate talent to why the coach has made certain systemic decisions. Most of the questions that are being asked are well founded while others are simply ridiculous.

There seems to be a growing sense in the fan base that Buffalo’s rebuild has stalled or is even irrevocably broken and doomed for failure. That latter opinion, of course, is lunacy. There are some obvious holes left on Buffalo’s roster but looking at the big picture, this thing is still heading in the right direction. If nothing else, the foundation to head in that direction has been laid, it’s just a manner of covering the gaps.

Given this prevailing feeling that nothing the Sabres have done is worthwhile, it seemed like a good time to evaluate the Sabres current situation. That meant giving an earnest evaluation of the good, the bad and even the ugly. This isn’t mean to be a dripping apologist post but an analysis that includes the nuance that so many in the fan base seem to ignore when criticizing the club. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast Interview – Featuring Mike Salerno of Topps NHL Skate

This edition of The Instigator Interview features Mike Salerno of Topps NHL Skate. Mike oversees the free, digital NHL trading card app that is part of the Topps trading card family. He joins Chris to discuss the unique features of the app, the future of trading cards and what might be on the horizon for the Topps app. We thank Mike for taking the time to chat about such an enjoyable app.

The Instigator Podcast 5.31 – Lehner Rumors and Judging what the Sabres Control

Back for another episode, Chris and Tyler pour over recent rumors that Robin Lehner may have been shopped after his meltdown in Toronto while also debating the thought process of trying to compare players team-to-team. We argue that the Sabres need to be judged based on their results, not the results of another club or another player.

We think this is a topic that’s getting badly misinterpreted by the fanbase, if you agree, disagree or simply think we’re complete dopes, please let us know.

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Scouting the Amerks – DMB, Bailey and Baptiste on the Slate

A 2017 playoff run is looking more and more like a pipe dream every day. The Amerks dropped two out of three this week, including both home games against the Wolf Pack and Penguins.  The two points they gained in Toronto were crucial, but Rochester still sits three points behind Utica for the last playoff spot.

Even though Tyler Ennis has returned to game action, organizational depth is still a huge obstacle the Amerks must navigate going forward. The amount of roster moves within the organization has massively effected the on ice product lately. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 5.30 – Missing Pieces

Since all we seem to do is jinx the Sabres with most of our post-game shows, we figured it would be best to talk about something other than the game that was just played. So Chris and Tyler sit down to see what’s still missing from Buffalo’s rebuild as the season progresses. Most of the conversation hinges on the blueline, which should surprise nobody. Be sure to listen and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or on another podcast app.

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