The Instigator Podcast 9.39 – Offseason Update with Joe Yerdon

Joe Yerdon joins the show yet again as we discuss the Sabres work at the draft and free agency. We touch on how Taylor Hall will impact the roster and whether or not his acquisition gives the Sabres enough fire power to take the next step. Jack Quinn is on the table as well as we run through the draft and the tepid reaction to Quinn’s selection.

Sabres Have Options for Upgrades in Rich Goalie Market

Of the may hiccups which have delayed and stalled Buffalo’s rebuild, uncertainty in the goal crease has been almost a near constant. It hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of the struggles which have beset the Sabres as they try to climb back into playoff contention, but it has been an almost ever-present specter.

It would appear that Kevyn Adams has a goaltender on his offseason shopping list, though the path to improving Buffalo’s prospects in net isn’t linear.

Linus Ullmark has transitioned from a prospect to an NHL caliber goaltender since being drafted in 2012. He has been fairly steady for the Sabres over the last two seasons but it would be a stretch to say he truly fits the mold of a starting goaltender in the NHL. He isn’t likely Buffalo’s long term answer in goal but he’s still poised to take the lion’s share of Buffalo’s starts after playing 50% of the team’s games this past year.

Who he shares the crease with is up for debate as Carter Hutton is positioned to remain in Buffalo for the final year of his contract, but his results have been shaky enough to raise questions about how the Sabres can improve the position. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.38 – Draft Round Table Featuring Expected Buffalo

We teamed up with the boys from Expected Buffalo to run through a host of draft-related topics. We discuss our favorite targets, including the likes of Anton Lundell and Marco Rossi and the likelihood that either of those players will be available when the Sabres pick at eight. Additional topics of discussion include our view on how the top of the draft will shake out and which x-factor picks may come up. We close with some bold predictions on both the draft and the rest of Buffalo’s offseason.

The Instigator Podcast 9.37 – Staal Trade and What’s Next for the Sabres

The Eric Staal deal came down about 24 hours after we finished recording our previous episode. So we play a little catchup this week in breaking down the first trade of Kevyn Adams’ tenure. We also touch on the moves being made by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the difficult situation in Arizona and even the hiring of Mike Weber and Adam Mair in Rochester.

Staal Acquisition a Good One Despite Old Wounds

The 20 minutes between Jochen Hecht’s go-ahead goal and puck drop for the third period were sublime. The 20 minutes that followed were a nightmare of delay of game penalties and Rory Fitzpatrick’s skates.

The heartbreaking end to an exhilarating Conference Final run hasn’t been forgotten by Sabres fans in the 14 years that have followed. It’s still a fresh wound despite the time that has passed and, for fans of a certain age, salt was poured back in on Wednesday evening when the Sabres traded Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild for Eric Staal. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.36 – Balancing the Sabres Internal Budget

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the Sabres are expecting to operate with an internal budget which could drop as low as $70 million. We spend time talking about whether or not the Sabres could effectively operate at that figure (they can’t) and what steps they can take to come close to achieving a tighter budget when it comes to spending on the team. We also touch on the hiring of Peter Laviolette and Bill Zito, the new contract for Jonas Brodin and the Nick Bjugstad trade.

The Instigator Podcast 8.29 – Who Should the Sabres Pick at 8?

The NHL Draft Lottery yielded a surprising yet utterly predictable result for the first overall pick. On this week’s episode we discuss the fallout from a placeholder team winning the top pick and Buffalo’s outlook at eighth overall. We also touch on Rick Dudley surfacing as a potential hire for Kevyn Adams’ front office and a new wrinkle in an interesting summer for the Pegulas.

 

The Instigator Podcast 8.27 – The Fallout of Jason Botterill’s Firing

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.

Are Regier’s moves being mismanaged?

Part one of this post ran yesterday, I hope you read it. Also, be sure to participate in the poll below.

When analyzing the most recent moves by Darcy Regier, I see decisions that were motivated by adding toughness (Ott, Regehr) and talent down the middle (Leino, Hodgson). While the success of those deals is obviously up for judgment, the one thing that is clear is that Regier is not only capable of identifying his club’s shortcomings but is capable of addressing them.

What is sometimes lost in translation is that the direction Regier has attempted to point the team in has been widely greeted with praise recently. The execution with those acquisitions has been what has been questioned. Ultimately, those fans who are quick to judge see these moves as terrible decisions and trace the timeline back to Regier and ultimately place the blame on him.

Again, remember how you felt about the Regehr trade when it happened and as he settled into the roster. You would have been hard pressed to find a fan who didn’t think much of what the Sabres gave up and the type of player they got in return.

The issue lately has been how these players are being implemented. Should the blame be placed on the coach? Are some of these players just not fitting in? Are some of the players busts? All valid questions and each is probably part of the equation at some point.

For example, it is looking like Ville Leino just isn’t the player they expected to sign. His contract is now cumbersome and he hasn’t offered anything to the Sabres in terms of production. He obviously falls into the “miss” category. However, for players like Regehr and Hodgson, they’ve brought a wrinkle to the roster that was missing and have undoubtedly filled a need.

That brings us to coaching. Plenty have clamored for Lindy Ruff to be fire. Hell, Jerry Sullivan had a nice pre-written column that just needed to be slightly tweaked after Thursday’s win. I can’t say I disagree anymore. Continue reading

McCutcheon released by Sabres

Word has come down that Brian McCutcheon has been released from his position on the Buffalo Sabres coaching staff.

This is a surprising move but one that I think was necessary. By most accounts McCutcheon was the man who ran the power play for the Sabres after Scott Arniel’s departure. If my facts are incorrect on that one I apologize. Based on that info, it was time for the Sabres to look somewhere else for a man to run the power play and cook up an offensive game plan.

Mike Foligno and Kevyn Adams have both been mentioned as possible replacements. I say great, either one will bring a fresh look to the position and likely a refreshed message. I would hope for Foligno simply because he has been coaching with Anaheim so he has some additional experience behind an NHL bench. Adams can’t say that at this point.

As for McCutcheon, there is a chance he ends up as the head coach in Rochester – if Buffalo does indeed purchase them and switch their affiliation. There is a chance he gets nothing and is left to find a new gig. I wouldn’t hate it if he was put in Rochester. He had some success there previously and may be better suited for that type or role.

This is yet another move you may not have seen under the Golisano ownership. McCutcheon was doing a satisfactory job (at best) and still had a contract. It would have been shameful to let him go if the team was to owe him money. The “winning is a goal” motto has it’s fingerprints on this decision. It would seem the organization wants to have the best people in important positions. Replacing McCutcheon was deemed as a decision that needed to be made and I applaud them for making the right move.