Botterill Displays Impressive Foresight in Dealing Fasching

Thursday’s acquisition of Brandon Hickey and Mike Sislo was a minor trade in almost every sense. None of the players involved are trending to become stars in the NHL but Jason Botterill showed a fair bit of savvy in swapping Hudson Fasching for Hickey and Sislo.

Fasching was pretty well down the pecking order on the wing at the conclusion of last season with a host of younger players poised to vault him. Cliff Pu and Victor Olofsson will arrive for their rookie seasons this fall and they’ll add to a group that includes Justin Bailey, Danny O’Regan, Nick Baptiste, Alex Nylander, CJ Smith. Andrew Oglevie, Rasmus Asplund and Sean Malone are other forward prospects who are going to garner a fair amount of attention as well. Even without the additions of Pu and Olofsson on the wings, Fasching was falling out of the spotlight.

It’s been noted that his healthy scratch in the playoffs likely sealed his fate with the organization and if the trade didn’t make it clear enough, it is fairly evident that Botterill wasn’t planning on tendering Fasching with a qualifying offer. Botterill was able to acquire negotiating rights to a player he has more interest in rather than letting the burly winger walk for nothing.   Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.31 – Sabres Trade Chatter is Picking Up

There are a lot of rumors floating around the Sabres these days and in this week’s podcast we work to sort through the various rumors and identify just where the Sabres stand in terms of the players who are likely to move on this summer. We also touch on potential trade targets for Jason Botterill to focus on while sorting through the mess in Ottawa and putting a crown on the Capitals first Stanley Cup Championship.

 

Two in the Mailbox – O’Reilly Availability and the Worst Trade You’ve Ever Seen

Two in the Mailbox, the (sometimes) weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing 2intheboxbuffalo@gmail.com.

Joe/@jneumann522 – Let’s assume #90 is available, what teams would be interested and what would be a reasonable return?

O’Reilly is going to be a hot topic until he’s moved or until the season starts. He’s one of the few players who carries enough value to help the Sabres in a trade and his cap hit is big enough that a deal would be beneficial from a financial perspective as well.

You can put down just about any team with a semblance of need at center as a potential opening for O’Reilly but teams the Sabres would want to deal with would likely whittle that list down a fair bit. Carolina is an obvious candidate as they not only have a surplus of defensemen but are said to be searching for forward help. St. Louis was working on a center at the deadline after they flipped Paul Stastny. I wouldn’t even rule out Edmonton given their ongoing search for hockey players.

O’Reilly is also a divisive subject given that he’s been a steady contributor since being acquired and has plenty to offer. So the only way it makes sense to move him is if the deal addresses another area of need. Specifically the blueline. The Sabres would need to noticeably strengthen their blueline with either a current NHLer or fetch a package that includes a blue chip prospect who could step into a role on Buffalo’s D starting next year. That’s a mighty small target to hit but when you consider Buffalo’s needs and the value O’Reilly carries, it’s the only way moving him would help improve Buffalo’s roster. Continue reading

Quick Thoughts on Alex Nylander’s Recall

Alex Nylander will be making his season debut this evening against the Ottawa Senators and his recall has drummed up quite a bit of debate from fans of the Sabres and their AHL affiliate.

Nylander’s year has been quite forgettable. A groin injury during the Prospects Challenge wound up costing him the early months of the campaign and he was still hobbled upon returning. His performance at the World Junior Championship was deemed pedestrian despite averaging a point per game. It wasn’t until the spring that his game seemed to round into form, seeing him register a stretch in which he registered 15 points in 15 games. That still leaves his numbers well below what you’d expect of a top-10 selection with plenty of questions about his status with the organization moving forward.

His 28 point (10+18) season in 2016-17 wasn’t met with celebration or concern as it ranked square in the middle of U20 players playing in the AHL. However, the lack of a step forward this season has raised red flags. Prompting questions to be asked about the logic of his recall for the final three games of the Sabres season.

While he may not have earned his recall, the decision to do so offers management the opportunity to add to their evaluation of his developmental arc. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.26 – Development Benchmarks and Reshaping the Core

While some people are Mad Online that Alex Nylander has been recalled, it seems like a smart decision for an organization seeking answers throughout their pipeline. We dig into appropriate development benchmarks and how a potential three-game cameo can offer the Sabres an additional window into a player’s development. We also hit on Pierre LeBrun’s reports that Jason Botterill appears open to moving players out of the core and explore what types of moves he’d need to make in order to reshape the key contributors on his roster.

The Instigator Podcast 6.25 – Mittlestadt, College Signings and Expectations

Casey Mittelstadt is under contract. So is Will Borgen while Judd Peterson signed a minor league deal. Good thing the Sabres have trouble signing college players.

On this episode of the podcast we discuss the impact of Mittelstadt’s signing and what type of expectations we should have for the rookie over his first six games. We also touch on how Borgen’s signing has the potential to turn the pipeline in a positive direction and, most importantly, Mittelstadt’s choice of number.

 

Two in the Mailbox – Buyout Candidates, Team Speed and Bad Trades

Two in the Mailbox, the weekly mailbag on the Sabres, goalie stuff, Buffalo and anything in between, is back. You can submit to the mailbag using #2ITBmailbag on Twitter or emailing 2intheboxbuffalo@gmail.com.

Joe/@JoeHockeySabres – Who are the Sabres buyout candidates? What are the buyout rules regarding numbers and salaries? Who will they pay?

The Sabres only have one buyout on their books (Cody Hodgson). The other two (Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino) are compliance buyouts, to the Sabres have room to work if they opt for buyouts. Here is a good rundown of the NHL’s buyout rules.

Matt Moulson seems like a pretty safe bet, even though it would probably be wiser to stash him in the AHL again and just eat that final year of his salary. On a buyout, Moulson would carry a $3.667m cap hit next year and $667K the year after. That’s a minimal net savings compared to simply keeping him one more year, but it would free up another contract space.

The most valuable buyout would probably be Zach Bogosian. His run of injuries have been incredibly detrimental to his time in Buffalo and he has two more seasons left at a cap hit over five million. Buffalo would gain a fair bit of flexibility if they chose to buy him out. From a contract perspective, cap perspective and even clearing a roster spot for a player with more availability such as Casey Nelson or perhaps even Will Borgen, depending how ready he is come October. Continue reading