The Instigator Podcast 10.30 – Sabres Heater Keeps the Good Vibes Rolling

The Sabres pushed their point streak to six games and improved to 8-3-2 in the month of March. We discuss how the continued success of the team could potentially cloud the longer term needs when it comes to making sure the Sabres take the next step in their rebuild. Namely, we discuss the discourse around Craig Anderson and where the team would be had he been healthy for the entire year.

Also on the show is a discussion over the new Buffalo Bills stadium deal and highlights from the NHL GM meetings.

The Instigator Podcast 10.29 – Quiet Trade Deadline for the Sabres

Kevyn Adams stood pat at this year’s trade deadline, only moving out Robert Hagg on Sunday. We talk about what the lack of action means for the team as they prepare for the stretch run, how they might fit key youngsters into the lineup and whether or not Adams made the right call by not making additional moves.

We also touch on moves from around the league. Who we felt were the big winners of this year’s deadline and even discuss that wacky Evgenii Dadonov deal.

Seven of the Best Sabres Seasons

Another Buffalo Sabres season is heading to a disappointing conclusion, and Sabres fans have to look back a decade or so to find the last time that their team were relevant in the playoff conversation.

But while NHL and NY sports betting fans will not be rushing to wager on Buffalo any time soon, it is worth remembering that these things are cyclical and that there is always reason to be optimistic in this volatile and ever-changing league. And though they may be struggling now, there have been plenty of times when the Sabres were a significant factor in the NHL.

Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox: Deadline Special

In honor of the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s time once again to take a few reader questions.  

I’m looking forward to Monday’s deadline as I think the Sabres are poised to move at least two or three players off the roster. And there’s potential for even more moves both out and in. Unless Kevyn Adams makes zero moves on Moday, it will be hard to say it was an underwhelming deadline.

As we touched on this week’s podcast, I’m hopeful that Adams will bring in a player who will be in Buffalo not just for the final weeks of the season, but well into the future. A younger player, ideally with term, who could add to the growing confidence over what Adams and the Sabres are trying to build. That’s easier said than done, but it wouldn’t be the first time the organization brought in a notable piece for the future at the deadline. Here’s hoping the next one comes on Monday.

Before we get to the questions, we should celebrate the beauty of the Armchair GM submissions on CapFriendly. It’s been far too long since we shared any of these, so let’s make up for lost time with some Very Bad Trades.

A few thoughts here. First, Kaapo Kahkonen has had a decent season for the Wild but he hasn’t yet risen to the level of a number one goalie. Marcus Foligno has also carved out a very valuable role in Minnesota, so the idea that just Casey Mittelstadt (whose has been very underwhelming when not injured) could fetch you both of these players is silly. Yet, that deal is trumped by the following offer of the Arizona Coyotes offering a first and a third for Victor Olofsson and recent healthy scratch, Anders Bjork. I’m not sure how to arrive at that particular valuation, but it seems…inaccurate. Olofsson ought to have some value this summer (or at the deadline) but Bjork’s value will have cratered and while the Coyotes do need players on contracts, they also desperately need draft capital.

Sure, I guess. There are other players in the NHL though. We don’t always have to do Pat Kane.

Unsubscribe.

On to the questions.

Continue reading

Projecting a Hypothetical Post-Deadline Roster

Once again, the Sabres will be sellers at the deadline. While they aren’t overflowing with pending UFAs or highly sought after talent, there will be a few faces missing from Buffalo’s lineup after Monday.

It’s hard to say exactly how many of Buffalo’s trade chips will find their way out the door, but I’ll be surprised if Kevyn Adams doesn’t make at least one or two moves. The Sabres have nine unrestricted free agents who could arguably be available via trade. But the more realistic number is five, maybe six players who are truly available. That list includes Craig Anderson, Cody Eakin, Robert Hagg, Vinny Hinostroza, Colin Miller and possibly Will Butcher. That doesn’t mean all of those players will be on the move, but they each have a profile of a deadline rental.

Players with term or RFA status could also be shipped out, but aside from some whispers about Victor Olofsson’s availability, it doesn’t sound like there would be any imminent moves from the non-UFAs on Buffalo’s roster.

What’s interesting is that while Adams could easily trade away five players on Monday, Buffalo’s roster might not look all that different. The injury bug that ran through Buffalo’s roster shifted the lineup to the point that the Sabres are only now sending players back to Rochester, with Mark Jankowski returned on Wednesday. So, while Hagg and Miller could both gone on Monday, Hagg is the only one of the two with a roster spot that would need to be filled. With Anders Bjork a healthy scratch and Zemgus Girgensons ready to return, the same could be said of Cody Eakin and Vinny Hinostroza.

I think the initial reaction to the Sabres potentially shipping out three or more players would mean a distinct impact to their competitiveness. But things might look pretty similar to how they look now. Right now, the Sabres are +200 underdogs against the Oilers at Betway. Not the greatest odds, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing much longer odds for the club once their work at the deadline is complete.

Continue reading

NCAA Rooting Guide for Sabres Reinforcements

The last few months haven’t been kind to the Sabres. Injuries have plagued the roster as losses keep stacking up. They’re flirting with winning only 10 of their last 50 games and another lost season has fans wondering when the reinforcements might arrive.

Unlike previous seasons, the Sabres prospect pipeline is a bit richer these days. Meaning there’s more than just one or two prospects worth looking forward to seeing. Jack Quinn was just returned to Rochester after recovering from injury. He joins JJ Peterka, who is steaming along at a point per game pace and Ukko Pekka Luukkonen, who is working back from an injury of his own. Mattias Samuelsson and Peyton Krebs are already in Buffalo and there’s an opportunity for Ryan Johnson, Devon Levi and Owen Power to arrive once their respective NCAA seasons wrap up.

Some of Buffalo’s Buffalo’s CHL prospects could even see action in Rochester on ATOs when their seasons end.

There ought to be space on the Sabres roster for some of those prospects to fill out after the trade deadline. There could be upwards of four-to-six openings depending on how many deals the Sabres swing and who they move on from. Thanks to the later start to the NHL season, NCAA prospects can play in far more games than they would under normal circumstances, which is a great sign for the ability of Johnson, Levi and Power to impact the Sabres lineup.

Exactly when those three could arrive is still up in the air. A few well-placed losses could get the trio to Buffalo sooner, which is what this rooting guide is for.

Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 10.26 – Sabres Laying Groundwork for Re-Engagement

The hockey world has reacted to the war in Ukraine, as Russia and Belarus have been suspended from international play by the IIHF and the 2023 World Junior Championships have been removed from Russia as well. Additional hockey-related sanctions have been placed on the two countries and we discuss the fallout that will come from the actions taken by both sides, from a hockey perspective. We also discuss the new initiatives being take by the Sabres in an effort to re-engage with their season ticket holders and fanbase as a whole. With a new VP of Ticketing, steps are being taken to open new avenues to connect with the fanbase and get butts back in the seats.

The Instigator Podcast – Tenth Anniversary Reunion

Eric makes his triumphant return to the show to reflect on the humble beginnings of the podcast, what’s unfolded over the last 10 years for the show, the Sabres and his career with the Nashville Predators. We talk about a host of NHL and hockey topics, including the fan engagement that’s been cultivated in Nashville and some of the big events Eric has experienced with the Preds.

Sabres Unveil Safe but Sharp Heritage Classic Jerseys

While the official announcement was somehow scooped by the team’s online store, the Sabres unveiled the jerseys they’ll be wearing for the Heritage Classic on Thursday morning.

via NHL on Twitter

The cream-based jerseys are a first in the team’s history of uniforms and overall, it’s a sharp uniform, although maybe a little on the safe side.

I suspected the Sabres would sport some sort of a “fauxback” for this game given the only truly historic jersey set they have to draw upon is already the basis for their home and away uniform. The cream base helps these lean in hard on the fauxback style and helps differentiate it from the 50th anniversary jerseys (which obviously weren’t throwbacks), the 40th anniversary jerseys and even the 2018 Winter Classic uniform which was at least tangentially throwback inspired.

The thicker striping pattern on the sleeves and hem are a great addition as it gives a more bold look than the thinner stripes seen on the 40th alternates or even the team’s home and away set. Ditto for the white trimmed pants stripe, which is something they should be adopting full time. The return of the bumblebee sock striping is going to fly under the radar but might be one of the coolest features of this uniform.

Adding felt to the crest is a nice touch – it certainly made the 2018 Winter Classic crest feel awesome – the rest of the logo remains unaltered. It’s a fine choice given the direction they went.

I don’t care much about the felt names and numbers. One, because I think it’s a concept that’s been overdone on these fauxback type jerseys. Two, because doing the blue on blue makes the unique stitching on felt numbers invisible. I don’t think the stitching pattern is anything special to begin with (hated it on the 40th alternates), but if you’re going to incorporate a design style, you might as well take full advantage. Lastly, there have been screenshots of disclaimers on the Shop One Buffalo site which indicate that the felt lettering probably won’t be available for the jerseys fans purchase. So it’s a purely cosmetic addition which will be difficult, if not impossible to discern on the ice and offers no added benefit to fans who purchase the jersey.

If there’s anything to critique about these jerseys, it’s that they are a bit on the safe side. While Toronto’s jerseys haven’t been released as of this post being written, it looks as if they’ll pull from an old Toronto Arenas uniform design. The Sabres have had quite a few issues embracing not only their history, but the history of hockey in Buffalo as a whole. This could have been a great opportunity to draw on a uniform design of one of Buffalo Bisons teams of the past. Instead, we got a fairly standard fauxback Sabres jersey. A good jersey, mind you. But not quite as adventurous as it could have been.

The jerseys themselves look great in the promotional images that have been shared. I think they’re going to look terrific on the ice as the design of the pants and the sock striping is going to really tie this all together. We won’t have to wait all that long to see them, either. We’re just about three weeks away from the Heritage Classic and I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll see these at KeyBank Center for the team’s throwback night on March 25.

The Instigator Podcast 9.24 – Alex Tuch Appreciation Hour

The main focus of this week’s show is Alex Tuch and the impressive impact he’s had since arriving in Buffalo. We talk about the underlying numbers he’s carrying, the incredible point production and simply how good he’s looked taking a step up in the lineup and helping to anchor Buffalo’s top line.

We add some thoughts about how Tuch’s emergence can help fuel the next moves the Sabres make in terms of free agent or trade acquisitions, and how he’s become a cornerstone of the young core they’re building with.

Prior to that, we touch on the trade between the Montreal Canadians and Calgary Flames that saw Tyler Toffoli head to Alberta. We discuss Jack Eichel’s impending return and the disappointment in not seeing Devon Levi receive any action for Team Canada at the 2022 Olympic Games.