Two in the Mailbox – Visions of 2025?

Back with another edition of the 2ITB Mailbag. Thanks to those who wrote in and if you want to participate in the next one, send me a tweet tagged with #2ITBmailbag.

@passoffpads – The year is 2025 and the Sabres are preparing for the Stanley Cup Finals (because even we can dream). Who is the goalie? Who is the captain? Who is the leading scorer? Who is the coach?

Let me just start by saying, I love your optimism. If the Sabres are a Cup contender in the 24-25 season, quite a few things will have needed to go right for them. The 2020 and 21 drafts will need to be paying dividends and the picks they’re set to make next June and in 2023 may have a say in that as well. I think Don Granato would still be the coach in this scenario, as the ramp up to Cup contender in that 24-25 season (or 25-26) would need to start in October of 2022. The likes of Owen Power, Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka will need to fill big roles and Granato will be the one welcoming them to the league next fall, so it’s only logical to conclude that the Sabres would be riding a wave that he helped start.

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Sabres Fill Need with Subban Acquisition

Help is on the way to the Sabres goal crease. The Sabres acquired Malcolm Subban from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, addressing a glaring weak spot in the wake of Craig Anderson’s absence.

Even without the vagueness surrounding Anderson’s recovery, it was becoming apparent that the Sabres needed reinforcement in net. Dustin Tokarski has started to battle some inconsistency as the bell cow and Aaron Dell simply hasn’t played anywhere near an NHL level since being recalled.

It’s been Dell’s play in particular which has highlighted the need for some sort of upgrade in net. He’s made five total appearances and has posted a ghastly 4.56 GAA and .862 SV%. Those numbers are actually being boosted by the two relief appearances he’s made, where he turned aside 24 of 25 shots across roughly 60 total minutes of action. In games Dell has started, he’s posted an 0-3-0 record with an .833 SV% and a 6.06 GAA. He’s been sloppy, struggled with angles and has been generally unreliable since the Sabres called him up to replace Anderson.

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Looking Forward in the Wake of the Eichel Deal

Kevyn Adams pulled out the final piece of his rebuild in dealing Jack Eichel to Vegas on Thursday. The move the entire hockey world had been waiting on since the spring was finally completed, ending a months-long saga once and for all.

The Sabres come away with Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a first round pick and a second in exchange for their wantaway star. It’s a package that on the heels of Thursday’s deal, feels mostly adequate, if not slightly underwhelming. Of course, you’re always going to want more when you’re trading a player of Eichel’ stature. That’s just par for the course.

Overall, I think Adams did well here. If a deal with Vegas was going to be made, Krebs was the piece they needed to get. Add in the first-round pick with fairly minimal protections (pick pushes to 2023 if Vegas is picking in the top 10) and two key futures that were believed to be q requirement for the deal were included. Tuch comes over on a team-friendly deal with plenty of term. At 25 he’s right in the window the Sabres should be looking for as they build out the roster. Maybe an additional mid-level prospect like Lucas Elvenes would have moved the needle a bit more. Or perhaps building a condition on to the 2023 second rounder that would make it a first based on Eichel reaching some basic games played benchmarks beefs this up a bit. But given the circumstances and the leverage each side had; I don’t think Adams deserves too much heat for this deal. At least in the short term.

The real value of this deal will play itself out in the long term for both sides. Particularly the Sabres. At best the first-round pick will be a year from contributing, if not longer. The second rounder will require more than that. Which is fine. The Sabres have wisely stockpiled picks and prospects over the last six months, an effort that has started to replenish a depleted pipeline. Krebs also represents a great deal of long-term value for the club. He’s only seen action in 13 NHL games between last spring and the start of this year. What he has to offer as an NHL player is still an untapped well and given his pedigree as a prospect, should be exciting for Sabres fans to track.

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The Instigator Podcast 10.9 – Jack Eichel Traded to the Vegas Golden Knights

We went into emergency pod mode to offer up our reaction to the trade that sent Jack Eichel and a 2023 3rd round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 1st round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick. We offer up our thoughts on the quality of the return the Sabres got and what sort of players you can expect to see in Krebs and Tuch.

The Instigator Podcast 10.2 – The Eichel Saga Takes Another Turn

Joe Yerdon is back for another guest appearance and to discuss all of the fallout from the first press availability of Sabres camp. On the docket is the decision to remove the captaincy from Jack Eichel and how the continued lack of a deal affects the Sabres in both the short and long term. We also run down the camp roster and the players we’re most excited to see battle through camp and the preseason.

The Instigator Podcast 9.33 – Waiting on an Eichel Deal

There was another twist in the Jack Eichel saga this past week as his agents issued a fairly strong statement and his doctor made an appearance on the 31 Thoughts Podcast. We dive in on where the trade winds are pushing Buffalo’s captain and try and handicap the current teams thought to be in the race.

We also look into Buffalo’s free agency spending and what sort of outlook the team has in the wake of a fairly active, but low-spend opening day of free agency.

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.