Kevyn Adams took a calculated risk when he opted not to move Linus Ullmark ahead of the trade deadline this past season.
Ullmark, a pending unrestricted free agent, was one of the few bright spots for the Sabres this past year and has developed into a reliable NHL goaltender. Despite the lack of a contract extension, Adams seems to have felt it was more beneficial to keep Ullmark in the fold for future extension talks as opposed to collecting an asset for him.
Free agency is now approaching and it seems likely that Ullmark will hit the open market and likely sign with a team closer to competing. The Sabres are already short on goaltending depth, with Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as the only goaltenders under contract for next year. Adams was going to have to bring on at least one goalie this offseason and now it’s looking like he may need a pair.
Luukkonen’s short cameo in the spring featured a few highlights but he still looked like a prospect who needed a touch more seasoning. Tokarski also performed admirably but his rightful place is on the Rochester roster.
That means at least two goalies are needed with an organizational third not being out of the realm of possibility. The Sabres won’t be alone in the goalie market as I count at least eight teams who could (or should) be in the goalie market this summer.
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 →
It’s been quite a while since I rolled out a mailbag and as this is a pretty long one, we might as well jump right in. Thanks to everyone for submitting your questions.
@strikeforcetim How would you format the postseason/award the Cup this year?
I’m going to steal the plan Elliotte Friedman floated on this week’s 31 Thoughts podcast because I think it makes the most sense on just about every level. His theory would be to give every non-wildcard team a first-round bye and then set up two play-in series between the next two teams in each division to determine the fourth team through to the next round.
Based on his approach, the play-in match ups in the East would be between the Panthers and Canadiens and the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In the west it would be the Jets, Predators, Canucks and Coyotes. His idea called for a two-game set, played in one arena and determined by total goals. Later in the podcast he detailed an idea floated by some around the league that would actually incorporate more teams (as many as 24) in play-in scenarios. That seemed a little far-fetched to me, although it might not be so bad if it meant the Sabres were a “playoff” team.
There are only two things I’d change about Friedman’s initial plan. The first would be changing the play-in teams from the next two in each division to the next four in the wild card race. Pitting the next two teams from each division would eliminate teams higher in the standings and closer to the wild card race that was suspended. Simply picking the top four teams in the wild card race would reward the teams who would have been most harmed by the current shutdown. The other change I’d make would be to the two-game play in. Friedman suggested total goals and allowing ties with the only sudden death coming in the second game. I’d prefer both games to be played to a conclusion as opposed to aggregate goals since it’s almost certain there would be some sort of controversy born from that decision. Continue reading →
Tyler and Chris are back from their long layoff to get back into some Sabres talk a week after Duane’s viral radio call and in the midst of a difficult run of play for the home team. We also discuss Alex Ovechkin’s run at Wayne Gretzky’s goal scoring record and we also run through some options the Sabres may have to remedy their situation in net.