Sabres Improved Depth will Make for Tough Roster Decision

It wasn’t long ago that the conversation centered on Sabres training camp involved more questions about which players could take an unexpected leap to in order to fill a much-needed spot in the lineup.

Thanks to a flurry of summer trades and a bit of lottery luck, the Sabres roster features more locked positions than gaping holes. The acquisitions of Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner filled out a thin left side while Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka may not be offensive dynamos, offer much-needed stability deeper down the lineup.

Who Fills Out the Bottom Six

Buffalo top-six is all but settled at this point. Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt Sam Reinhart, Sheary and Skinner are written in pen. Kyle Okposo might as well be too, though I suppose there’s room for him to bump to the third line if Phil Housely feels they can ice a third scoring line. Where the real battles will occur are in the bottom six, where there are probably three spots truly up for grabs.

Berglund is going to be Buffalo’s “third” center. He’ll likely be tasked with handling more difficult matchups, defensive zone draws and some (keyword: some) of the other duties that were previously filled by Ryan O’Reilly. Berglund won’t come close to covering all of those responsibilities, but he’s the one center in Buffalo’s camp best suited to take on a chunk of them. He’s another player whose spot was never going to be in question, though one factor that could be at play is whether or not Housley wants to inject more offense into the lineup.

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The Instigator Podcast 7.2 – Bottom Six Battle will Define Sabres Camp

Sabres training camp officially opens this week – not a day too soon given the Bills performance against the Ravens. We run through some of the more intriguing options the Sabres have in filling out the few open spots in the bottom six. We also discuss how the depth Jason Botterill has managed to add should have a positive trickle down effect on the Amerks. Along the way we touch on the Sabres Prospects Challenge, the trade the Canadiens made to send Max Pacioretty to Vegas, Steve Yzerman stepping down in Tampa and the strange video put up by the Senators and Eugene Melnyk.

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The Instigator Podcast 6.7 – Who Wins One of the Final Spots on the Sabres Roster?

There are only a few spots available on the Buffalo roster for the coming season but the Sabres have upwards of 15 players battling for five, maybe six positions. It’s a battle that includes a combination of free agent signings from the summer and prospects who appear ready for the jump. Chris and Tyler debate the outlook for the blueline and bottom six forwards and who we see as the most likely to make the opening night roster.

The Instigator Podcast 5.17 – Gudas, NHL Discipline and Projecting the Sabres Roster

We’re back to provide our thoughts on what the initial Sabres roster will look like for the season as Derek Grant, Hudson Fasching and Casey Nelson among those impressing in the preseason. Along the way we touch on some of the seemingly inaccurate statistical models projecting the Sabres season and the stunning lack of discipline applied to Radko Gudas’ latest indiscretion. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

The Instigator Podcast 5.16 – Sabres Camp and the Surprising Trouba Trade Request

After Jacob Trouba’s surprising trade request from Winnipeg, Chris and Tyler discuss the Sabres-related focus on the request and potential for the Sabres to acquire the young blueliner. We also touch on the beginning of Sabres training camp and the battle for spots in Buffalo’s bottom six. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, hit the link here to subscribe and rate.

Reloaded Forward Group is Full of Upside

Pop quiz, hot shot. Can you name all of the forwards vying for a spot on the Sabres roster this year? No cheating.

The Sabres enter camp with a hefty roster bolstered by two years of rebuilding. As a result, fresh faces abound and it isn’t too hard to leave out a name or two while you’re penciling in lines.

Tim Murray’s first 18 months have brought Evander Kane, Jamie McGinn, Ryan O’Reilly (and brother Cal), Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson and Robin Lehner (among others) to the Queen City. Oh, and two guys named Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel, too. As a result, trying to ferret out exactly who will be on the opening night roster isn’t an easy task.

Obviously Eichel is going to be at the center of attention throughout camp. After all, where would the Sabres marketing team be if they couldn’t show us Jack Eichel doing Jack Eichel things with people who aren’t Jack Eichel? All kidding aside, I’m beyond ecstatic to see him in preseason action after his play in development camp (especially the 3-on-3 tournament) and at the Prospects Challenge. I just hope the Sabres don’t run him into the ground as they try to promote him the team.

The number of potential position battles for a team starting to turn the corner out of a rebuild isn’t that surprising. The forward group has the most potential for upheaval as there are upwards of 15 players who could conceivably push for a roster spot for the October 8 opener. Continue reading