The Instigator Podcast 9.11 – Scratches, Injuries and Some Signs for Hope

While the last week and a half has been pretty rough on the Sabres, Tuesday night’s win over New Jersey was a nice respite. We close the show with some thoughts on the win but only on the heels of some tougher talking points on Buffalo’s injury luck and Ralph Krueger’s coaching decisions.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.7 – Process and Results

For the first time in the history of the sport, the Sabres actually have quality underlying numbers. Despite that fact, they haven’t seen legitimate success early in the season due, in part, to their struggles to score at even strength. We discuss how those underlying results may be indicative of long term success should the Sabres manage to cobble together a better shooting percentage at even strength. We also touch on the Pierre-Luc Dubois/Patrik Laine trade between the Jets and Blue Jackets.

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What’s Left from the Sabres at the Deadline

After Jason Botterill’s comments on Wednesday it seemed fair to assume he’d have a relatively quiet trade deadline. The holes in his team’s roster were showing and the playoffs were looking bleak as other Eastern Conference contenders added help while Botterill stayed patient.

It was hard to stomach for some, watching the Sabres slide from the literal league lead to a six-point deficit from the final wild card spot. For others it was just fine. Botterill was going to build through the draft and stockpile prospects. That got turned on its ear on Sunday when Botterill sent a first round pick and Brendan Guhle to Anaheim for Brandon Montour.

The deal was exactly what Botterill had said he was attempting to make all year. A deal for a young player who would offer help to the team now and in the future. I don’t expect him to take another big swing by Monday’s deadline, but I don’t think the Sabres are done. Continue reading

Just What Does Botterill Have to Offer in a Trade?

For the first time in a while the Sabres are in a position to buy ahead of the trade deadline. Or, at the very least, use their picks and prospects to add rather than selling bodies to build assets.

Their post-November slide is complicating matters, as they’re doing impressive work to fall out of playoff contention. That slide will likely temper Jason Botterill’s urge to get too aggressive prior to the deadline as a struggling team with picks to spare isn’t won’t get much charity from around the league. Of course, they probably weren’t getting too many cheap offers at the peak of their winning streak either.

We aren’t privy to any conversations Botteril is having during the season, so we’ll never know how active he is during the year. But Botterill hasn’t taken much of a shine to in-season trades in his short term as general manager. And it’s the general manager’s job to assess the market as it fluctuates to determine when to pull the trigger. He’s made five in-season (counting the Deslauriers deal made on the eve of last year’s opener) trades and only one was of any real significance. That being the deal that sent Evander Kane to San Jose and it was no secret that deal was coming.

Botterill’s done most of his work in the offseason, when prices are typically lower and more players are usually available. Even with the Sabres finally back in the conversation, he may still opt to make his big moves in the offseason for those two reasons. That will frustrate a lot of fans as you’d hope Botterill is at least working to keep his team competitive down the stretch.

The other obstacle facing Botterill is what exactly he will be able to offer that other clubs will value when it comes time. Buffalo’s pipeline isn’t packed with talent – one reason that Botterill is likely reticent to deal his firsts. Nor are the players they have in the pipeline obvious talents another team would covet. There is talent to be offered, just not the overabundance you’d want when it comes to a continued retooling.

I compiled a list of players and picks that are either obvious assets for Botterill to use in trade talks, or names that I’ve seen mentioned by fans in various instances. Not all of these are even likely to be moved, but an attempt to compile a somewhat comprehensive list of assets that could be packaged or players who could be moved in order to create new opportunities for others. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.12 – Pilut-ing Forward

Lawrence Pilut has only played three games at the NHL level but his early returns have been impressive. He’s also the only defenseman Buffalo has on the active roster who is waiver exempt. We talk about the different options the Sabres have to keep Pilut in Buffalo without sacrificing another player to waivers. We also discuss the Sabres four-game slide and the positive signs from the stretch which may just signify they’ll be back in the win column soon.

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Sabres stay focused on centers on day two of draft

With Friday’s fireworks in the rearview, Darcy Regier and his scouting staff went to work with six picks in rounds two through seven of the 2012 NHL Draft.

While they shipped off their very first pick of day two in order to draft Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo was able to net an impressive amount of size and talent with their remaining picks. With their nine picks, the Sabres took five centers with their eight picks at the draft, picking up a pair defensemen and one goaltender.

There is no longer a need for organizational depth at center after the past two days. Counting Luke Adam, Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson, the Sabres have 12 centers in their system. With Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko flirting with an immediate jump to the professional game, these improvements will be felt at every level.

The Sabres also were able to begin re-stocking their crease after signing the only two  goalies they had in the pipeline. After a commitment to defense in the mid-2000s, the blueline still has some prospects on the way that will be enhanced by this draft.

Buffalo’s commitment to centers and adding more big, skilled players was the obvious trend in this draft and I would expect that to continue for at least one more year. For a full rundown of the Sabres draft, I will defer to Sabres Prospects. But here are a few thoughts I have on each of Buffalo’s day two picks:

Jake McCabe (2nd round, 44)

McCabe is fairly well sized and just finished up his rookie year at Wisconsin with adequate numbers. I think the most promising part of this selection is that Wisconsin has become Defenseman-U in the past  few seasons churning out talent like Ryan McDonaugh and Jake Gardiner.

Without much prior knowledge of McCabe I am happy with the choice. He played for Ron Rolston in the US Development Program and Kris Baker notes his solid two-way game as a reason to look to the future. I’d venture a guess he plays at least two seasons in the NCAA before signing a pro contract. Continue reading