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.
The Instigator Podcast 7.6 – (Lack of) Shots Fired
The Sabres have shown their fair share of good traits early on this season but plenty of bad as well. Those bad traits were on full display in a clunker against Vegas and we hit on just what’s plagued the Sabres in their losses (and some of their wins) this season. We run through the hiccups they’ve experience on special teams while also touching on the bright spots on the roster. Other topics include a run through of some of the Amerks’ top performers and who from Rochester is likely to be the first recall this season.
You can listen to The Instigator Podcast on most podcast streaming services, including large providers such as iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and most other third-party podcast streaming apps. You can find links to subscribe and rate the show below:
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
Guhle, Ullmark Recalls Indicate Botterill is Sticking to His Plan
For all intents and purposes, the Sabres season has been rendered irrelevant for weeks. Their slow start has pretty much stretched the entire course of the year and they’re looking at another year in the league’s basement, hoping for some lottery luck.
Preseason chatter had the Sabres as a dark horse playoff contender, a team that may have had the pieces necessary to snag one of the wild card spots in the East. You may have even found a sports betting site like Betulator.com to place a wager or two on the Sabres outlook. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be money well spent.
The Sabres rebuild has stalled and stalled in a bad way. Unfortunately we’re left looking to the pipeline once again, wondering where the help will come from after seeing the organization’s lack of depth serve as a major speed bump to the post-2014 building process. A deeper dive on exactly where things went wrong will be coming in this space soon, so stay tuned for that.
Jason Botterill’s decision to recall Brendan Guhle and Linus Ullmark may strike some fans as a sign that things are finally changing, that the Sabres are committing to their youth and finally attempting to inject the lineup with young talent. I’m not quite so optimistic, but not because I think either of these two prospects are lacking in skill or potential, but because Botterill told us how he wants to play his hand and pulling two of Rochester’s top performers is counter to his strategy.
Getting a look at Guhle and Ullmark prior to Buffalo’s bye and at a time the Amerks have a light schedule does follow that process, however. Continue reading
The Instigator Podcast 6.14 – Should the Sabres Tap their Pipeline this Season?
The Sabres are seeing success in Rochester this season as the prospects Buffalo has in the Flower City have lifted the Amerks to second in the AHL’s North Division. Led by the likes of CJ Smith and Brendan Guhle, the Amerks are proving to be a development dream for the Sabres. In what’s looking like a lost season, does it make sense for Jason Botterill to pull up his growing youngsters, or should he stay the course and allow those players to develop away from the struggles of the NHL club?
We discuss this, the looming return of Zach Bogosian and George Parros’ first serious foray into suspensions on this week’s episode.
Scouting the Amerks – DMB, Bailey and Baptiste on the Slate
A 2017 playoff run is looking more and more like a pipe dream every day. The Amerks dropped two out of three this week, including both home games against the Wolf Pack and Penguins. The two points they gained in Toronto were crucial, but Rochester still sits three points behind Utica for the last playoff spot.
Even though Tyler Ennis has returned to game action, organizational depth is still a huge obstacle the Amerks must navigate going forward. The amount of roster moves within the organization has massively effected the on ice product lately. Continue reading
Scouting the Amerks – Nylander Returns and Baptiste Stays Hot
This was a very difficult week for the Amerks without Justin Bailey, Taylor Fedun and Alexander Nylander. Somehow, they were able to gut out overtime wins against the Crunch and the Marlies, taking four points from the three games they played.
Unfortunately Toronto gained three points from the back-to-back home games against Rochester this weekend. Considering the luck they have had when playing three games in as many days, I would consider it a win. The Amerks are still level with the Marlies for the last playoff spot, but Toronto has played two fewer games. Continue reading
Scouting the Amerks – Bailey and Rodrigues Lighting the Lamp
This was a week of exorcising demons in Rochester. They were able to defeat The Syracuse Crunch for the first time in six games, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on their fourth try.
Following the holiday break the new-look Amerks eared six points from four games. This brings them a point above the Marlies into fourth place in the North Division. Utica and Toronto still have a couple of games in hand, but if the Amerks can keep stringing together wins, their playoff hopes look optimistic. Continue reading
Scouting the Amerks – Rochester Inching Closer to AHL Basement
In a week full of ups and downs, the Amerks are officially in danger of becoming the last place team in the AHL. The Amerks had two impressive home wins against the Marlies and Ice Caps. Unfortunately each of them was followed by an equally frustrating 4-1 loss.
After Wednesday’s offensive explosion, the top line featuring Nick Baptiste, Cal O’Reilly, and Cole Schneider, only combined for one point in the next three games. If not for a generous home book on what was primarily an individual effort from Just Bailey, they would have been shut out. The trio was -11 over that stretch of play.
The addition of Taylor Fedun on Saturday immediately injected life into a struggling defensive core. However, an injury to Tyson Strachan that same night thrust Casey Nelson back into action on Monday. Nelson has played especially poor this week. If there was more defensive depth in the organization, he would probably be playing in Elmira right now. Before Fedun replaced him on the point, he was a large contributor to the struggles of the Amerks power play. Even after the change was made, Rochester has still not converted with a man advantage. Rochester hasn’t scored on the power play since November 30, an 0-23 stretch. Continue reading
Scouting the Amerks: Bailey and Ullmark Shine After Rough Weekend
Scouting the Amerks will be a weekly series in which Dennis Allen (not the Saints defensive coordinator) takes a closer look at how things are going on the farm.
To say the Amerks had a bad weekend would be a powerful understatement. Rochester didn’t even have a loser point to show for two games in Lehigh Valley and one in Hershey.
Rochester were doubled up in the shots column in the first game against the Phantoms and the weekend finale against the Bears. They were out shot 125 to 69 over the course of all three games. The Amerks are now ranked 12th in the conference and are 8 points out of the playoff race. The roster is really hurting from a defensive standpoint. So much so that Dan Lambert continues to use five forwards on the power play. That has caused some problems as Evan Rodrigues’ inability to hold the point against Hershey led to a shorthanded breakaway goal.
However the Amerks are not without talent. My two standout Amerks this week were Justin Bailey and Linus Ullmark. Continue reading