It isn’t controversial to say Jason Botterill’s job should have been in jeopardy given the Sabres results during his tenure. But just weeks after giving him a vote of confidence, the Pegulas abruptly fired him and replaced him with Kevyn Adams, a decision that left many scratching their heads. What followed was an unprecedented house cleaning that saw scouts, development coaches and Rochester’s staff let go. We discuss all of this and look ahead at Adams’ difficult task on this week’s podcast.
The Instigator Podcast 8.26 – NHL Return to Play & The Sabres Enter the Offseason
We’re back with a new episode after a long layoff but it feels like we never left. The Sabres have missed the playoffs once again, the GM (and owner!) put his foot in his mouth and a player insinuated that he’d like to be traded. In addition to touching on the Sabres post mortem, we run through the NHL’s return to play plan. While we generally favor the playoff format, we cook up a couple of different takes for the draft lottery.
Two in the Mailbox: Quarantine Partner, Center Targets and Ryan Miller’s Gear
Quarantine life has us all a little wacky, so it felt like a good time to roll out another mailbag post. Below are questions about who I’d want to be quarantined with, GM candidates and my personal favorite, goalie equipment.
Mike/@mike_mckinnon22 – What was your favorite Ryan Miller setup?
Tough call on this one. Miller wore a really unique set of pads for a number of years that you couldn’t get at retail. They were a combination of a handful of different products that included the old Koho 580s, Vaughn Vision and Heaton 10s (among others). The pads got updated with different graphics over the years so that CCM and Reebok could advertise new retail models, but the pad itself was a unicorn. They were fairly old fashioned, featuring not just knee rolls but shin rolls as well but there was a level of nostalgia that they offered.
Picking my favorite set up of Miller’s is tough since my favorite mask of his debuted in 2011-12 when he added the Buffalo script to the chin of his iconic bison head mask. He had an awesome set of Vaughn V6 pads in 2014 (when he finally abandoned the Frankenpads) and his Koho 580 set from early in his career was elite. However, my favorite is pictured here. The Vector graphic he picked up towards the end of 2005-06 looked awesome in Buffalo’s red and black and remains a cool pad graphic to this day. It wasn’t the greatest retail pad and the graphic looked better on Miller’s pads than at retail, but the arrow graphics played well in the Sabres color scheme. It also looked pretty close to the mismatched RBK Premier blocker he started to wear after breaking his thumb. So that’s my choice. Continue reading
Seeking a Better Standard
There’s been a heck of a lot more bad than good coming out of One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza over the past few years.
Yet another NHL season is dragging to a close with more eyes on lottery odds than the playoff race and aside from the bankruptcy era’s rumors of relocation, it’s hard to think of a worse time in franchise history for the Sabres and their fans.
While the on-ice results may not have been overly surprising to some, the combination of more losing and a generally underwhelming 50th anniversary season and it isn’t hard to see where the fans’ frustration has come from.
Between radio rants, empty seats, legions of away fans and a return to lottery status, this year’s optics are just as bad, if not worse than last year’s eerily similar campaign. All of this has led observers to begin wondering what comes next for the Sabres. Does Jason Botterill survive another slide? Will we see a new Peace Bridge before the arena is renovated? Is fan experience something the organization actually takes seriously? Is there any hope that an acquisition will be made that can make the team competitive?
All of this has brought about something I had thought about earlier this year on The Instigator Podcast when discussing the standards and expectations of teams that had fired their coach or GM. What exactly are the standards that the organization operates under? More specifically, what standards and expectations have the owners set for the organization? Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 8.23 – Kahuna Matata: NHL Trade Deadline Review
In one of the most eventful trade deadlines in years, the Sabres made a pair of moves as they attempted to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Jason Botterill acquired Wayne Simmonds and Dominik Kahun ahead of Monday’s deadline, picking up a rental and a potential long-term addition for his club. We discuss some of the larger moves made around the league on Monday along with what the larger implications are for the Sabres after acquiring Simmonds and Kahun.
Sabres at the Deadline: Time for the First Step
Jason Botterill and the Sabres have hit another deadline season no nearer to the playoffs that the year before. Once again, the Sabres aren’t quite sellers but they aren’t quite buyers either.
It’s been a rough season for the club, as a summer of anticipation over improving the forward corps came and went. The lack of action at the tail end of the summer carried all the way to January when Botterill finally acquired a forward, flipping a pick to Calgary for Michael Frolik.
That deal has played out about how you would have expected. Frolik has been forgettable during his time in Buffalo as he was a player better acquired in the wake of a larger acquisition. But instead of Frolik supplementing the roster after a move for a top six forward, he’s slotted into an already crowded and forgettable bottom six. That bottom six accounts for the list of deadline rentals the Sabres have to offer. Cheap rentals, but still rentals.
Frolik, along with Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Conor Sheary and Jimmy Vesey are Buffalo’s pending unrestricted free agents. As a restricted free agent who previously requested a trade, Evan Rodrigues could still be on the move as well. Add in trade rumor regular Rasmus Ristolainen and Buffalo’s other defensemen, specifically Brandon Montour, Colin Miller and possibly Jake McCabe, Botterill could have a busy Monday. Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 8.22 – Trade Deadline Preview
The trade deadline is just days away and there have been a host of moves made in the week leading up to the 24th. We discuss Buffalo’s handful of UFAs, who they should look to move and what might be necessary to bring back in order to preserve Rochester’s roster wherever possible. We also discuss whether or not the Sabres are in a position where they need to make a trade in order to earn back their fanbase and to truly strengthen the roster.
The Instigator Podcast 8.18 – The Right Time for a Pink Slip
Ray Shero’s firing in New Jersey raises some questions in Buffalo, as the Sabres struggle through another season. We spend this week’s episode discussing when exactly the right time to pull the trigger on firing a GM is. We also apply that to the Sabres and Jason Botterill, determining just what his fate may be by the time this season comes to a close.
The Instigator Podcast 8.17 – Waiting for Movement with Jeremy White
In a way, this is a little bit like a two week late version of the airing of grievances. Jeremy White joins the show as we look back on the deals that effectively saw Marco Scandella swapped for Michael Frolik and what else may be on tap as Jason Botterill attempts to keep the Sabres afloat in the Eastern Conference. We run through a number of topics as it pertains to the team’s roster construction and hit on just about every issue that’s come up as Botterill has struggled to turn the Sabres into a competitor.
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After Scandella, What Does Jason Botterill Have Left to Offer?
The trade dam finally broke at One Seymour H Knox III Plaza. It took a couple of months, but Jason Botterill sprung to action this week and flipped one of his defensemen for help at forward.
Botterill grabbed the pick needed to acquire Michael Frolik by shipping Marco Scandella to the Canadiens on Thursday evening. Effectively laundering a defense for forward swap through a third party. It’s a relatively minor trade that sees the Sabres use an area of strength to address a weakness. Why it took this long to execute is another question altogether, but fans can take some solace in seeing the GM spring into action.
A big move is still yet to come. It may not come in-season, either, given the Sabres frustrating injury luck and their precarious spot in the standings. A big move is also what seems to be necessary to lift their forward group to the next level.
At the very least, Botterill has a minimum of two trades to make in order to honor the trade requests of Evan Rodrigues and Zach Bogosian. I suspect he’ll have at least one more addition up his sleeve either in addition to dealing the two wantaway players, or as part of the trade for one. My guess is we see something along the lines of the Brandon Montour trade at last year’s deadline; a deal that brings in a younger player who can fit in with the core and be in Buffalo beyond this year. It may not be as big of a deal as the Sabres only have one first round pick to work with, but there are a few pieces Botterill has at his disposal which I think could (or should) be on the table. Continue reading