The Instigator Podcast 8.17 – Waiting for Movement with Jeremy White

In a way, this is a little bit like a two week late version of the airing of grievances. Jeremy White joins the show as we look back on the deals that effectively saw Marco Scandella swapped for Michael Frolik and what else may be on tap as Jason Botterill attempts to keep the Sabres afloat in the Eastern Conference. We run through a number of topics as it pertains to the team’s roster construction and hit on just about every issue that’s come up as Botterill has struggled to turn the Sabres into a competitor.

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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After Scandella, What Does Jason Botterill Have Left to Offer?

The trade dam finally broke at One Seymour H Knox III Plaza. It took a couple of months, but Jason Botterill sprung to action this week and flipped one of his defensemen for help at forward.

Botterill grabbed the pick needed to acquire Michael Frolik by shipping Marco Scandella to the Canadiens on Thursday evening. Effectively laundering a defense for forward swap through a third party. It’s a relatively minor trade that sees the Sabres use an area of strength to address a weakness. Why it took this long to execute is another question altogether, but fans can take some solace in seeing the GM spring into action.

A big move is still yet to come. It may not come in-season, either, given the Sabres frustrating injury luck and their precarious spot in the standings. A big move is also what seems to be necessary to lift their forward group to the next level.

At the very least, Botterill has a minimum of two trades to make in order to honor the trade requests of Evan Rodrigues and Zach Bogosian. I suspect he’ll have at least one more addition up his sleeve either in addition to dealing the two wantaway players, or as part of the trade for one. My guess is we see something along the lines of the Brandon Montour trade at last year’s deadline; a deal that brings in a younger player who can fit in with the core and be in Buffalo beyond this year. It may not be as big of a deal as the Sabres only have one first round pick to work with, but there are a few pieces Botterill has at his disposal which I think could (or should) be on the table. Continue reading

Botterill Will Need to Break Some Trends to Improve Roster Now

When is Jason Botterill going to make a move? That’s the common refrain among hockey fans in Buffalo as the calendar creeps towards January with the Sabres in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Unlike last year, the Sabres have managed to right the ship after their post-win streak regression. They’ve turned in a solid December and sit five points shy of a wild card spot but only one point out of third in the Atlantic coming out of the Christmas break and holiday roster freeze. Like last year, they’re reliant on a single line to produce results, even still they’re firmly in the race at the New Year.

The time for action was prior to the roster freeze. It’s evident the Sabres are in need of help up front. Ideally a center but it’s probably more realistic for them to find a winger capable of buoying their output. They’ve had a surplus of defensemen since July and one of those guys just explicitly asked to be traded.

It’s not unfair to want to see Botterill spring into action. The Sabres have been spinning their wheels for the better part of a decade and frustration over Buffalo’s on-ice success is high. After watching the 2018-19 season circle the drain, you’d understand why fans are antsy to see additional improvements.

There are two threads to follow for Botterill and the Sabres. The first is the cap situation and the surplus on defense. Zach Bogosian has requested a trade and it seems as if Marco Scandella is likely to be traded as well. Without any salary retention, moving the pair accounts for over $9m in cap. The second aspect is just what type of trade might Botterill make in order to actually improve the forward corps. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 8.11 – Zero Hour on Moves Approaching

Coming back from Sweden in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the need for change is looking more and more apparent for the Sabres. Trade rumors are swirling and we run through some of the options available to the Sabres when it comes to targets Jason Botterill could bring in. We also touch on some of the big news items from around the league including Sidney Crosby mulling surgery for a sports hernia and the Kings searching for a way out from under Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract.

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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Another Look at the Center Market

As the season was slipping away the general consensus was that the Sabres needed help at center to help reverse their slide down the standings.

That help never came, of course, with a number of potential targets swapped ahead of the deadline, leaving the Sabres to move for Brandon Montour and look ahead to 2019-20. As the deadline approached, I wrote this post to see just what was available around the league at center.

With whispers that Rasmus Ristolainen will be moved growing into a dull roar, I thought it might be wise to run down a similar list to see if anything has changed between January and now. Ironically, many of the same names I highlighted in January could conceivably still be acquired despite being moved prior to the deadline.

There aren’t too many centers around the league who fit the Sabres’ need on the second line, are on favorable contracts and who are truly available. That might make it more favorable for the Sabres to leverage their best trade chips to acquire a more skilled winger as opposed to taking a lesser center just because that happens to be on the to-do list. It’s tantamount to drafting the best player available or drafting for need.

If a center is what the Sabres hone in on between now and training camp, here is a look at which teams may be worth reaching out to and which players would make some sense. Continue reading

Over-Thought: Wading into the Offseason Rumor Mill

Depending how things shake out over the next few days, Jason Botterill will have just missed out on having an awfully busy month of May. The Sabres’ head coaching vacancy has been filled by Ralph Krueger, Buffalo made their first free agent signing of the summer and reports indicate that Botterill is inching closer to an agreement with Jeff Skinner on a contract extension.

The scouting combine ought to help push trade negotiations further ahead and that’s with one potential blockbuster already hanging out there. The most recent 31 Thoughts blog offered up plenty of juicy talking points on trade rumors and more. Check it out here if you haven’t already. Continue reading

Could First Round Exits Offer Sabres a Trade Partner?

The startling reality that faces the Sabres after yet another season without the playoffs is the club needs yet another round of big roster changes after their maneuvering over the past two summers has gone for naught.

Jason Botterill and Phil Housley’s first year saw ten new faces brought to Buffalo. They were just shy of repeating that figure again this season. While it’s not out of the question that the team they inherited was already heading to the basement before the pair stepped in. The franchise was already suffering in the wake of below average drafting and owned a handful of bad contracts while lacking depth. That they wound up finishing worse than Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma’s final year is perhaps more of an inevitability than a surprise. Regardless, Housley and Botterill will own the results of the last two seasons. It will all rest on Botterill’s feet and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be around to see the team climb back to respectability.

That leaves him will the difficult task of overhauling his roster for the third-straight summer. Last year’s overhaul brought only a minute improvement in the standings, buoyed by the 10-game win streak but destroyed by the January-to-April collapse. Does he have another trick up his sleeve, or will Botterill be resigned to a more conventional path to improvement?

Botterill’s best opportunity for unearthing talent at discount prices may come from targeting the teams run out of the first round of the playoffs. Teams like Pittsburgh who were frustrated at their early exit, or the Jets and Lightning whose cap situations will likely require trades to be made. Between tight cap situations and disappointing exits, there could be room for the Sabres to pounce. Continue reading