The Instigator Podcast 7.18 – Post All Star Outlook

After honoring the Sabres’ bye week we are back in action with some post All Star fun. We run down Peter Chiarelli’s firing in Edmonton and Toronto’s acquisition of Jake Muzzin. We also use the Muzzin acquisition as a way to reflect on Buffalo’s current status ahead of the trade deadline. In the theme of the last few episodes, we determine the tough decisions Jason Botterill will need to make regarding not only trade targets but the price he wants to pay to upgrade this roster.

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Exploring who the Sabres can Shop for at Center

The Sabres are in an unusual position heading into this season’s trade deadline. They’re no longer sellers but they’re still a ways off from being a traditional buyer. As the rental market isn’t going to favor Buffalo’s needs in either the short or long-term.

That’s a good thing. The Sabres aren’t a piece or two away from an Eastern Conference championship, nor are they stagnant, sitting on their hands hoping to stockpile more draft picks. At the very least they’re on schedule with the vision that Jason Botterill has set for the franchise. They may even be slightly ahead of schedule. I certainly think the fanbase would say they are in hopes of seeing the team stay ahead of schedule.

Between rumor reporting and media appearances with Botterill it’s pretty clear that the plan of attack is to only use a first round pick if it’s for a young player with term. That will narrow the trade market but also puts the Sabres in a position to hunt for bigger game. Rather than circling the rental market, Botterill has the opportunity to seek out a player who can plug into the Sabres core for longer than a few weeks.

If the next few weeks go well, I wouldn’t be shocked if Botterill sought out a pending UFA in an effort to give the Sabres one last boost for the stretch run (it is worth noting that Jeff Skinner may have been viewed as that guy), I don’t expect him to use a first round pick to do it.

The trade I wish the Sabres had been in on was the one that sent Nick Schmaltz from Chicago to Arizona. He’s exactly the type of player I hope the Sabres can find on the trade market: under 28, 200-foot player with term (team control in this case). It’s worth noting that 22-year old centers on their entry-level contracts don’t exactly grow on trees. But he checks about every box when it comes to who the Sabres should be targeting.

In terms of that particular deal I don’t think the Sabres had the ammo to make the deal that ultimately went down. Even with their extra first round picks, they don’t have a former lottery selection lying around that they could offer up like Arizona did with Dylan Strome.

Even if Schmaltz is no longer attainable, the Sabres won’t be without options when it comes to the trade market. So I decided to run through the other 30 rosters around the NHL to see just who might be worth targeting in a deal. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.15 – Post-Holiday Wish List

We’re back from the holidays with a wish-list of sorts of players we’d like to see the Sabres chase in order to shore up the thin areas of the team’s roster. We talk about some realistic options and a couple really optimistic ones as well. We also touch on the rosters for the 2019 All Star Game while offering up an alternative option which might provide more latitude for deserving players to be selected for the game.

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:

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Two in the Mailbox: Finding Help Down the Middle after Berglund Departure

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.

At this rate the mailbag is going to be monthly rather than sometimes weekly. Either way, a lot has happened since the last iteration with Patrik Berglund’s contract termination being the most recent and the biggest headline.

We discussed Berglund for the first half of this week’s podcast and the one thing that I think will be misconstrued with his contract being terminated is that the Sabres can or should exercise the option on any player they please. Kyle Okposo, Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella are just a few of the guys I imagine fans are going to flood the mentions of writers with once Berglund’s termination is official.

The fact of the matter is that these scenarios are extremely unique and require a concrete violation in most cases (Jake Dotchin or Mike Richards, for example) for the team to have solid ground to stand on. So while you may want the Sabres to have the liberty to cut bait with Okposo with no questions asked, it’s just not in the cards. So why waste your time hoping for it? Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 7.11 – Streak Sleepers with Ben Mathewson

Ben Mathewson was kind enough to join the show this week to reflect on the tenth win of Buffalo’s win streak and some of the players who have been contributors to the streak but who haven’t received quite as much press as guys like Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Dahlin. We discuss the impressive depth the Sabres have enjoyed, particularly the fourth line and we even toss around some hypothetical trade targets should these winning ways turn the Sabres into buyers in the spring (yes, Brandon Montour is discussed).

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:

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The Instigator Podcast 5.5 – Vesey and the Draft with Joe Yerdon of NHL.com

A special thanks to Joe Yerdon of NHL.com for joining Tyler and I for this week’s podcast. We discuss the Jimmy Vesey trade and the likelihood that the Sabres get the young prospect under contract. We also explore the options Tim Murray will have at the draft. This includes who the Sabres may pick at eight and potential trade targets. We end on a bang with a particularly interesting proposal for Sabres fans to mull over. You can listen to this week’s podcast here or via iTunes by following this link.

Which Defensemen Should Tim Murray Target This Offseason

By John Barrett

It’s a very interesting time to be a Buffalo Sabres fan. With the NHL Draft in spitting distance, and perhaps the most interesting free agency period in two decades, the Sabres have positioned themselves well for both regards eleven picks and loads of cap space.

The biggest hole on the Sabres roster is, as Tim Murray puts it “a power play quarterback,” defenseman that can be paired with budding star Rasmus Ristolainen and be a big-time point producer with the man advantage. There have been a few defensemen around the NHL whose names have been linked to the Sabres, via restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency and cap motivated trades.

I examined the stats of a handful of these potential targets, that focus on two major areas; puck possession and power play production. I focused on these two areas because they were two key focus points that came right from the horses mouth when Murray discussed his blueline. I plotted the two year averages for players on a matrix of 5v5 Corsi For % Relative to the team and points per 60 minutes on the power play.targets Continue reading