The Instigator Podcast 11.16 – Sabres New Year’s Resolutions

We turn the calendar to 2023 and offer up the resolutions we have for the Sabres in the New Year. The Sabres find themselves creeping up on the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and are enjoying impressive seasons from a number of key contributors. With their impressive improvements in mind, we dig into a few areas we hope to see the team focus on in 2023.

The Instigator Podcast 11.8 – Tage Against the Machine

Tage Thompson is on fire, racking up nine points over two games this past week and helping the Sabres further their winning record. We talk about Thompson’s breakout and another Sabres center who has been terrific this season: Dylan Cozens. After we discuss the team’s top two centers we serve up a few treats at the end of the show in discussing the Arizona Coyotes arena and the new Adidas Might Ducks sneaker and jersey line.

You can catch The Instigator Podcast on these platforms any virtually everywhere else you find your podcasts:
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The Instigator Podcast 11.4 – The Growing Crisis Surrounding Hockey Canada

The spotlight on Hockey Canada has only gotten brighter in recent days as the investigation into how the organization has handled sexual assault claims continues to reveal deeper and darker issues with their operations. We discuss the nature of the claims against Hockey Canada and how recent revelations and announcements have raised new questions about what’s next for Hockey Canada and whether or not they’re capable of the introspection needed to enact tangible change.

We wrap up the show by digging into the lines the Sabres look set to enter the season with. We touch on the strengths of the lineup and some of the areas where issues may arise. We look at how the roster make up could affect the long and short term roster management through recalls and changes with line combinations.

You can catch The Instigator Podcast on these platforms any virtually everywhere else you find your podcasts:
iTunes
Spotify
Spreaker
Audacy
Stitcher
iHeartRadio
TuneIn

Sabres Prospect Pyramid – January 2022

Navigating a shallow prospect pool has been a chore for no fewer than two of Buffalo’s recent general managers. Both Kevyn Adams and Jason Botterill had to manage the situation and you could argue Tim Murray dealt with it as well. A cumulation of light drafts and below average development stripped the Sabres of almost any success outside the first round of the draft. They even have had their fair share of struggles in the first round. All of that led to a thin prospect pool in terms of quantity and quality.

The Sabres made 11 picks in the 2021 draft, the same number of selections over the two prior drafts combined. We’ll see how valuable the picks become down the line, but in the short term the draft was valuable in filling out Buffalo’s pipeline. That depth may be a bit of an illusion with most of Buffalo’s top prospects on the verge of NHL promotions, or already there. But there’s no question that the 2021 draft went a long way to refilling Buffalo’s prospect cupboard.

Despite their overall record, the early returns have been positive for Adams as his first two draft classes have a handful of bright spots. Thanks to some of the strong play from the likes of Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka, it felt appropriate to revisit the club’s prospect pool using the pyramid ranking style.

As a refresher, using the pyramid style over a strict numerical ranking lets you place players in tiers as opposed to having to choose one over the other. It’s especially useful in cases like this where ranking Jack Quinn over Peyton Krebs, for example, paints a different picture than simply putting them in the same overall group. Keep that in mind as you sift through the tiers below.

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10 Questions for the Sabres Season

The hope tank is pretty empty around Western New York as the Sabres open another season. Going headfirst into a rebuild, the season isn’t expected to be much to write home about but there are still storylines worth tracking. Here are 10 big questions worth asking ahead of the 2021-22 season.

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Patience, Promise and Adjusting Expectations for the 21-22 Sabres

It’s no secret that the 2021-22 season is going to be a difficult one for the Sabres. Kevyn Adams has embraced a tank rebuild and while Jack Eichel remains a Sabre, a cursory glance at Buffalo’s training camp roster should give plenty of indication of what this season will look like.

You may not think this rebuild is anything like the last one the Sabres embarked on in 2013 but when you look closer it shares many of the hallmarks. Veteran talent traded for futures, stockpiling draft picks, investing in a youth movement. The reason there are similarities between the two is because most rebuilds in the NHL follow the same basic formula, and like it or not, they’re all in some way, shape or form, a tank. One aspect of this rebuild which will differ from the last go around will be the likes of Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt.

When Darcy Regier began tearing things down in 2013, none of the picks the Sabres were investing in held key positions on the NHL roster. Zemgus Gigrensons and eventually Rasmus Ristolainen would (almost by default), but ahead of the teardown, there were few key picks wearing a Sabres sweater on a regular basis. I supposed you could count Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis in that group, but having three top 10 picks already playing is much different than the last time.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.19 – The Kids are Alright

Buffalo’s young players have been getting plenty of attention since Don Granato took over, playing key roles in the Sabres’ stretch run. We discuss the impact some of the prospects and young players have had this spring and the potential that exists for that group to have a significant impact in the future as well. We also place focus on Don Granato and whether or not he should be the first choice as the long-term head coach of the team. There’s also bonus conversation on the European Super League and the fallout of the apparent failure of some of soccer’s biggest clubs to break off and make their own competition.

The Instigator Podcast 9.2 – Catching a Taxi Squad

The NHL season is just a few weeks away and clarification has finally come down with regard to the league’s schedule and the key dates for the season. This week’s episode touches on the dates for the start of the season, the trade deadline, playoffs, the draft and more. Among the new additions for the season is a taxi squad that each team will be able to leverage for additional roster flexibility. We discuss the most strategic approach for the Sabres to take with the taxi squad and whether or not we envision the group being used as a development tool or for older call ups as the season progresses. We also touch on the helmet ads coming for the 2020-21 NHL season and the outlook for Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens at the World Junior Championship.

The Instigator Podcast 9.1 – Ready to Roll with the 2020-21 Season

We’re back for season nine and we’re looking ahead to what promises to be another unusual year for the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL. With the announcement of the 56-game season and realigned divisions, we discuss the outlook for the Sabres and the path they’ll need to follow in order to break their playoff drought. We also touch on the World Junior Championship and the Sabres prospects who are likely to be participating in the event this season.

Two in the Mailbox – Trade Targets, Goalie Wishlist and More

It’s been a while since the last mailbag ran, so I’ve taken a few extra questions for this edition to make up for lost time. This edition of the mailbag will hit on draft questions, goalie gear, movie recommendations and trade targets.

Hopefully I won’t be as lazy moving forward and there will be more mailbags to come in the weeks to follow. Continue reading