Sabres Faced with a Challenge in Net

Kevyn Adams took a calculated risk when he opted not to move Linus Ullmark ahead of the trade deadline this past season.

Ullmark, a pending unrestricted free agent, was one of the few bright spots for the Sabres this past year and has developed into a reliable NHL goaltender. Despite the lack of a contract extension, Adams seems to have felt it was more beneficial to keep Ullmark in the fold for future extension talks as opposed to collecting an asset for him.

Free agency is now approaching and it seems likely that Ullmark will hit the open market and likely sign with a team closer to competing. The Sabres are already short on goaltending depth, with Dustin Tokarski and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as the only goaltenders under contract for next year. Adams was going to have to bring on at least one goalie this offseason and now it’s looking like he may need a pair.

Luukkonen’s short cameo in the spring featured a few highlights but he still looked like a prospect who needed a touch more seasoning. Tokarski also performed admirably but his rightful place is on the Rochester roster.

That means at least two goalies are needed with an organizational third not being out of the realm of possibility. The Sabres won’t be alone in the goalie market as I count at least eight teams who could (or should) be in the goalie market this summer.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.25 – Draft Lottery Rewind

We’re back from a brief break to offer up analysis of the Sabres nabbing the top pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and the prospect who Kevyn Adams may be looking at with the first selection. We also discuss the second round of the NHL Playoffs and enjoy a bit of comic relief thanks to our friends up the QEW. All that and more on this week’s episode.

The Instigator Podcast 9.22 – Locker Cleanout Meltdown featuring Joe Yerdon

It was quite the day for the Sabres as Jack Eichel’s comments at locker cleanout day made headlines throughout the hockey world as he was extremely transparent about the disconnect between his camp and the organization. We discuss the potential fallout from Monday’s interview as Eichel certainly sounded like a player who was on his way to being dealt. Not to mention to similarly negative outlook portrayed by Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen.

The Instigator Podcast 9.18 – Deadline Recap

The deadline has passed and while Kevyn Adams checked off the boxes he needed to, he hardly gets a passing grade after a pretty underwhelming deal for Taylor Hall. We run through Buffalo’s work at today’s deadline and touch on some of the bigger deals swung at the 2021 deadline.

The Instigator Podcast 9.17 – NHL Trade Deadline Primer

The NHL trade deadline is upon us and the Sabres are poised to be sellers. We run through the list of players the Sabres could move by Monday afternoon and even target a couple of potential additions who could step in to close out the season and looking towards 2021-22. We also discuss the Kyle Palmieri trade and the implications that may have on the Sabres’ ability to move Taylor Hall.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.16 – Pipe Cleaning

This week we discuss some of the rumors swirling about Buffalo’s front office and how the various names connected to the Sabres could affect their future. We touch on the trade that sent Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens and the potential positive impact of the return. We wrap up the show analyzing some college free agents who could help in goal.

The Hockey News link on draft lottery changes:https://www.si.com/hockey/news/which-recent-nhl-draft-lottery-outcomes-led-to-the-new-rule-changes

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

Instigator Podcast listeners can get 2500 free coins when they download the Vig It sports app and use our promo code 2ITB when you register. Bet on the NHL, NBA, MLB and win real prizes with Vig It. The app is free to download and free to play which means you can start earning coins to win prizes today.

Staal Trade Sets the Table for an Interesting Stretch Run

Spring cleaning started in earnest for Kevyn Adams and the Sabres with Friday’s trade of Eric Staal. There’s almost certainly more to come for the four-plus UFAs expected to be shopped ahead of the April 12 deadline.

The Staal move works on a number of levels for the Sabres. The most obvious being the return on an expiring contract and a player who hadn’t performed to expectation this season. Getting a 3rd and 5th round picks for Staal feels appropriate given his play this season, but perhaps slightly underwhelming given the player he’d been for the Wild over the last few seasons.

Buffalo has had some poor results at recent deadlines, particularly in seasons where they had opportunities to sell expiring assets. Tim Murray notably made zero moves in what would be his final deadline and Jason Botterill only made one move at his first deadline; trading Evander Kane to San Jose in a year the Sabres finished dead last.

Botterill’s subsequent deadlines featured a mix of buying and selling, meaning this year might be the first the Sabres sell on a number of players for the first time since 2015. An odd consideration given their results in the interim but the sad reality the organization is facing.

I suppose Jonas Johansson was really the first domino to fall but Staal is one of Buffalo’s three big(ish) tickets for this year’s deadline. Taylor Hall is the big prize while Brandon Montour is rumored to be on the block as well.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.14 – Stalled Development

It seems like every season there’s at least one or two prospects you wish the Sabres would take a longer look at and inevitably a couple of seasons later the player is gone without ever getting a serious audition at the NHL level. We talk about a number of players the Sabres should be working harder to get into the lineup rather than continually running out the tired veterans they seem to insist on playing.

We also discuss this week’s 31 Thoughts and the implications the Pegulas decisions on thinning out the hockey department may have in both the short and long term. Video scouting, shortsighted decision making and the need to capitalize on draft capital were among the big points we touched on with regard to some of Buffalo’s questionable decision making.

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

 

Firing Krueger is Only Starts to Solve the Sabres Problems

What’s left to say at this point?

I started this blog in the summer of 2010 as a way to keep writing and it quickly became another outlet for staying connected to hockey. It’s always been an enjoyable endeavor, but I guess I underestimated the Sabres’ ability to ruin a good thing.

I’ve never had all that much trouble finding a reason to write about the Sabres, but here we are. There’s only so many ways you can look at this car wreck and form a different opinion. Last year I wrote a post questioning what sort of standard the organization is run with. When you see teams around the league fire their coaches while in a playoff position, it’s hard to see how the Sabres operate on the same level of their peers.

Another season has been flushed, the players have very clearly quit on their coach and there’s no sign that anything will make things better. Ralph Krueger has been a dead man walking for weeks, probably going as far back as February 25 when Jeff Skinner was scratched for the third-straight game. Despite the 11-game losing streak and the horrific display the team has put out each night, it’s hard to see Krueger being fired any time soon. Continue reading

Two in the Mailbox: Rebuilds, Coaches and GMs, Oh My

Congratulations to the Sabres for once again failing to play a meaningful game in March. This season comes with the added bonus of having started in January.

As a result of the current state of the only Buffalo pro sports team competing, this week’s mailbag is a little bleak. We have questions on rebuild potential, prospects and the owners. Continue reading