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.

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.

Sabres Faced with a Challenge in Net

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.

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Granato Feels Like the Right Fit for Where the Sabres are Heading

The Sabres might’ve taken the scenic route but they finally arrived at a decision on their head coach.

I’m not sure many were surprised to see Don Granato earn the removal of interim from his title, but the time between the end of the season and the official announcement was notable. It probably would’ve taken a really impactful interview to sway the Sabres off Granato, but the organization left that door open in case anyone was able to present themselves in an impressive enough fashion.

Credit to the Sabres for being thorough with their search, even if the most pessimistic among us may feel it was mostly for show. For a club that doesn’t get too many things right, it’s only fair to give them credit when they earn it.

As for their choice for the 20th head coach in franchise history, we’ll see what the next three years have to offer as he officially inherits a job that’s likely going to get a lot tougher in the coming weeks and months.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.27 – Remembering Rene Robert

The passing of Rene Robert struck the hockey world and the Sabres organization. We talk about the figure Robert was as a player and into his retirement for the Sabres. We also spend a few minutes talking about JJ Peterka after he signed his entry level contract and even touch on some signs of cautious optimism with regard to Buffalo’s draft capital and recent selections.

The Instigator Podcast 9.26 – A Busy Summer Awaits featuring Lance Lysowski

Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News joined the show to run down some of the biggest topics surrounding the Sabres. And at the moment, that is a long list. We talk about the impeding Jack Eichel trade and all of the implications (both positive and negative) that carries with it. We talk through some of the expected destinations where Eichel may land, and the sort of return you can expect to see once the trade goes down. Draft talk was also on the table as this week’s rumor that the Sabres are expecting to have two top-10 picks could put them in a somewhat rare position to come away from the draft with two blue chip prospects. Along the way we touch on goaltending and a few other trade targets who fans should keep track of.

Granato in Driver’s Seat for Sabres Coaching Search

It’s becoming more apparent that Don Granato will be named the next head coach of the Buffalo Sabres.

While not official as of the writing of this post, there has been a lot of smoke indicating that Granato will be retained and have the interim tag removed from his title. This comes after Elliotte Friedman noted that the Sabres are expected to give Granato clarity soon among other Tweets and notes over recent weeks. I believe the Sabres intent is to bring back the coaching staff as it was when Granato took over as interim coach, though that leaves openings in player development. So we’ll see what the staff looks like if Granato is indeed the choice.

With so many questions lingering around this offseason, it’s hard to say definitively what sort of coach the Sabres should have coveted. It seems as if Jack Eichel will be traded this summer, a move which will almost certainly trigger a rebuild for the Sabres. Should that be the case, Granato’s interim stint showed signs that he might be the perfect coach for a rebuilding team which will be leaning heavily on young players to play key roles.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.25 – Draft Lottery Rewind

We’re back from a brief break to offer up analysis of the Sabres nabbing the top pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and the prospect who Kevyn Adams may be looking at with the first selection. We also discuss the second round of the NHL Playoffs and enjoy a bit of comic relief thanks to our friends up the QEW. All that and more on this week’s episode.