Sabres Blueline Turnaround is Coming into Focus

It was no secret that Jason Botterill was facing a tough road in putting together a well-rounded blueline when he took over the Sabres. Turns out that the unit needed more of an overhaul than reshaping that stretched into this past summer.

Winning the Ramsus Dahlin lottery would make any rebuild a much easier task and a lucky bounce of the lottery balls has helped the Sabres take a major step forward.

Dahlin was really the only true addition the Sabres made to their backs blueline but he’s already meeting expectations, if not exceeding them. His confidence is growing by the day and combined with his vision and skating ability has led to a number of plays along these lines:

GIF via Ben Mathewson @ thescreen.co

There’s a noticeable difference in Buffalo’s breakout and flow when Dahlin is on the ice, something that was lacking at almost every point of the 2017-18 season. Some of his underlying numbers took a hit recently after a few lopsided showings, which tipped him below 50% Corsi, though Dahlin remains a positive influence relative to his teammates. Zach Bogosian’s Corsi jumps ten percentage points when paired with Dahlin as opposed to without him. So he’s not just passing the eye-test, though his current trend is creating at least one eye-popping play per game. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.9 – Extended Stays

Jeff Skinner has become a focal point for Sabres fans as his pending free agent status and impressive play has made him a priority for Jason Botterill to sort out. We discuss what a contract extension might look like for Skinner and what the timeline for that might be. We also hit on Evan Rodrigues and how the opportunity to sign him for a longer term and lower cap hit could put the Sabres in a favorable position as the cap continues to rise and the Sabres continue to build. Along the way we hit on the NHL’s concussion lawsuit settlement and the Sabres outlook leading up to American Thanksgiving.

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Sabres Improved Depth will Make for Tough Roster Decision

It wasn’t long ago that the conversation centered on Sabres training camp involved more questions about which players could take an unexpected leap to in order to fill a much-needed spot in the lineup.

Thanks to a flurry of summer trades and a bit of lottery luck, the Sabres roster features more locked positions than gaping holes. The acquisitions of Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner filled out a thin left side while Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka may not be offensive dynamos, offer much-needed stability deeper down the lineup.

Who Fills Out the Bottom Six

Buffalo top-six is all but settled at this point. Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt Sam Reinhart, Sheary and Skinner are written in pen. Kyle Okposo might as well be too, though I suppose there’s room for him to bump to the third line if Phil Housely feels they can ice a third scoring line. Where the real battles will occur are in the bottom six, where there are probably three spots truly up for grabs.

Berglund is going to be Buffalo’s “third” center. He’ll likely be tasked with handling more difficult matchups, defensive zone draws and some (keyword: some) of the other duties that were previously filled by Ryan O’Reilly. Berglund won’t come close to covering all of those responsibilities, but he’s the one center in Buffalo’s camp best suited to take on a chunk of them. He’s another player whose spot was never going to be in question, though one factor that could be at play is whether or not Housley wants to inject more offense into the lineup.

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The Instigator Podcast 7.2 – Bottom Six Battle will Define Sabres Camp

Sabres training camp officially opens this week – not a day too soon given the Bills performance against the Ravens. We run through some of the more intriguing options the Sabres have in filling out the few open spots in the bottom six. We also discuss how the depth Jason Botterill has managed to add should have a positive trickle down effect on the Amerks. Along the way we touch on the Sabres Prospects Challenge, the trade the Canadiens made to send Max Pacioretty to Vegas, Steve Yzerman stepping down in Tampa and the strange video put up by the Senators and Eugene Melnyk.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

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The Instigator Podcast 6.35 – Assessing the Roster and Botterill’s Tenure

On the heels of another impressive deal by Jason Botterill we look at where the roster stands after the acquisition of Jeff Skinner and also reflect on the job Botterill has done as GM of the Sabres.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

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The Instigator Podcast 6.34 – Reaction to the O’Reilly and Sheary Deals

It’s been a busy week for Jason Botterill as he’s swung two trades that will have a significant effect on his roster. We lead off with a breakdown of Botterill’s biggest trade to date, in which he sent Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis for a package of picks and players. We briefly hit on the acquisition of Conor Sheary before transitioning into a discussion of what’s next on the docket for Botterill as he still has a few holes left to fill on his roster.

You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:

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Rick Martin Trade Tree Sprouts Another Branch after O’Reilly Trade

The Rick Martin trade tree’s life got a big boost when Evander Kane was dealt for a pair of draft picks at the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline. Little did we know that it would get an even bigger boost this summer as Ryan O’Reilly was dealt for a big package of players and picks.

Tage Thompson and the pair of picks the Sabres acquired give the team a trio of solid assets to build with and all three could one day contribute to future growth of the trade tree below. We’ll probably see a branch or two more from this tree before it finally runs its course.