Two in the Mailbox – When Does Mittelstadt get Signed, Next Year’s Goalies and Pipeline Graduates

Two in the Mailbox, the weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing

Matt/@matt_hervan – Which Casey signs a contract first, Mittelstadt or Nelson?

Sign this man

This is a good one. There’s been some chatter that Mittelstadt will return to Minnestoa for another season rather than signing to play in Rochester. There’s no guarantee that’s what Jason Botterill would want him to do – although it’s likely given his m/o – but that’s an option that would be on the table which could also keep the clock on his entry-level deal from starting. However, if Mittelstadt is to sign it’s my belief that it will come this spring after his season with the Gophers comes to a close. The Sabres would have the ability to pitch him on getting pro games right away, even burning a year of his ELC if it comes to that. He’d get a chance to make his NHL debut and he’d be able to play in the playoffs with Rochester as well, which should be a decent selling point for the player just as it would be an attractive development step for the club.

Getting Nelson extended seems like it’s going to be an offseason task. He’s unrestricted thanks to his Group VI UFA status but he really fits the mold of a true RFA. So it seems likely that once the season wraps up that Botterill will get to work on penning a new contract between Nelson and his agent.

It’s worth noting that my assumptions here are based on rumors and media reports on both player’s contract status. It would be just as easy to view Nelson as a player the Sabres will prioritize now rather than waiting until the summer when the clock is really ticking. Same goes to Mittlestadt as there’s been more than a few reports indicating the full court press will come in the summer.   Continue reading

How Much Responsibility do the Sabres Goaltenders Bear for Lost Points?

On the laundry list of issues the Buffalo Sabres are facing, goaltending ranks relatively low. A slow roster with some problematic contracts all while dropping from first to worst (technically 27th as of today) has far bigger issues to address than goaltender.

Although it may rank low on the larger list of issues facing Jason Botterill and company, it is indeed a problem area that is in need of improvement moving forward.

Improved goaltending wouldn’t be the silver bullet needed to get the Sabres into a playoff position. It wouldn’t even get them into the race at this point, which speaks to the myriad issues with the roster at the moment. But their goaltending has indeed cost them points in the standings, enough to, at the very least, pull them from the doldrums of the league basement and into a more respectable standing.

Chad Johnson and Robin Lehner have combined to allow three or more goals in over half of Buffalo’s games this season and four or more goals have been allowed 22 times. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the vast majority of each goaltender’s wins have come in games where they allow two or fewer goals while the vast majority of losses come when three or more goals are conceded. What has been a problem is a lack of consistency from both, and a propensity to negate rare strong offensive performances from the league’s lowest scoring team. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.24 – Grading Jason Botterill and Phil Housley’s Work

Our two week, sickness-induced layoff has come to an end and Chris and Tyler are back to full health to discuss Jack Eichel’s apparent return from injury and to offer up some progress reports on Phil Housley and Jason Botterill. The rookie GM and coach haven’t yet completed their first season on the job but it felt like a good time to evaluate what’s gone right and wrong for the duo during their first season at the helm.

Two in the Mailbox – What to do with Mittelstadt?

Two in the Mailbox, the weekly (week and a half this time) mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing

Jake/@Jvince11 – What do you think the chances are that when Mittelstadt’s season is over that he signs an ELC and at least plays in Rochester? Maybe Buffalo? A Clayton Keller move like he did with PHX last year. Continue reading

Kane Trade Extends the Rick Martin Trade Tree

Underwhelming return aside, the trade that sent Evander Kane gave added life to two of the biggest pieces of Sabres history. The Rick Martin and Don Edwards trade trees, which converged with the deal that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis in 2014, will roll for quite a bit longer now that the Sabres have two more 2019 (or 2020) picks in their pocket.

The Instigator Podcast 6.23 – How will the Sabres Approach the Trade Deadline

We’ve nearly reached the trade deadline and the (short) list of buyers is falling into place. We discuss Buffalo’s approach and the types of prices we expect to see Jason Botterill receive for players like Josh Gorges, Evander Kane, Benoit Pouliot and others. Additionally, we hit on some targets we hope to see Botterill bring in to bolster Buffalo’s roster for the coming seasons.


Two in the Mailbox – Best Pads Ever and Sabres Scouts

Two in the Mailbox, the weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing

TJ/@steadyriot – Favorite pad set of all time

You might as well try to figure out which wing joint is the best in Buffalo (hint: not Duff’s) before asking this. I assume I’m like most goalies when I say the masks were what first caught my attention and were why I wanted to play goal myself. However, what I really fell in love with were pads.

Nothing beat taking the quick drive to Don Simmons and trying on a few of the hundreds of sets they used to have on display. For me, it was the closest thing you could ever get to Willy Wonka’s factory.

From a strict playing perspective, this begins and ends with the Vaughn Velocity leg pads and a glove with a Koho 580 break (90 degree if we’re getting technical). The blocker is somewhat immaterial to me but I’ve grown partial to Vaughn or CCM/Reebok/Koho model. Continue reading