After a little time off we’re back with a slightly different approach to a Cup Final preview. Given that game one went down the day before we recorded, simply offering up a preview would be dirty pool. So instead we opted to discuss just how difficult this Vegas team is going to be to knock off. While Tyler isn’t as confident as I am that Vegas is fated to win this series, we revisited their roster construction and just what’s working for them as they steam towards a championship. We also hit on the recent signings by the Sabres and how Lawrence Pilut, Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Asplund will affect the team’s pipeline this coming year.
You’d think the regular season might have taught us something about the Vegas Golden Knights. Thought of as a ragtag bunch of cast-offs which could have been a far more talented team given the players selected in the expansion draft, the Golden Knights promptly defied all odds and even looked like a President’s Trophy candidate for long stretches.
They were driven by a number of career-high performances, including a few staggeringly good shooting percentages, that were still widely believed to peter out at some point. So even with all the head turning performances from the regular season, it was still easy to bet against Vegas as they entered the playoffs.
Questions about their game translating to the postseason, how would they handle a traditionally excellent possession team in their first foray into the playoffs, could the astonishing offensive numbers by their team leaders carry forward? There were a lot of doubters that the Golden Knights could even get out of the first round. All they did was sweep the Kings, shutting them out twice and nearly silencing their offense altogether. Continue reading
Although the Sabres have enjoyed a nice stretch of play, we decided to revisit our season preview podcast and see how well we did prognosticating the NHL. As it turns out we chose…poorly. As we review our picks, and how the current standing have shaken out, we dig in on a few of the teams around the league. We take a closer look at Vegas, Chicago, Carolina and Edmonton and what’s led them to their spot in the standings.
With the expansion draft nearly here we sit down to offer up our own mock drafts before George McPhee announces the Golden Knights roster. We attempted to follow as close to the currently reported deals as we could in order to put ourselves in a similar situation to what McPhee will be facing. Additionally, we break down Buffalo’s acquisition of Nathan Beaulieu along with the other pre-expansion trades that went down over the weekend.
Here are links to each of the mock drafts we put together:
With the Cup Final complete, Jason Botterill has serious business to attend to. Naming a new head coach for Buffalo and Rochester are just two of the items. In recent days, Evander Kane and Robin Lehner have found their names in the rumor mill while nearly every team in the league are working to solve their respective expansion challenges. We take a look at what options are available to Botterill via trade and which options seem more and less realistic with just days left until the deadline for expansion.
Ennis? Bogosian? Moulson? Ullmark? Will the Sabres manage to pawn off a big salary on the Vegas Golden Knights or will Tim Murray have work to do in terms of which players he exposes and which players he protects. Chris and Tyler run down Buffalo’s options for the expansion draft while also hitting on the signing of CJ Smith, USWNT negotiations and Sam Reinhart’s benching.
One of the storylines to track as the NHL inches closer to this summer’s expansion draft is what choices each team will make in goal. Due to their current contract situation, the Sabres are among the teams that have work to do in that department.
Unlike with forwards or defensemen, each team has a very simple set of rules to follow. You can protect one non-exempt goaltender and each team must expose at least one goaltender who is under contract for the 2017-18 season. Restricted free agents can be exposed so long as they have been tendered by their current club. It’s very straightforward and there’s little wiggle room when it comes to making a choice.
All three of Buffalo’s goaltenders are currently on expiring contracts and none have been extended at this time. Anders Nilsson is really the only one who is a threat to leave as a free agent as both Linus Ullmark and Robin Lehner are restricted free agents. That means Lehner and Ullmark will almost certainly receive their qualifying offers and negotiate a new deal for 2017-18, thus eliminating much of the guesswork when it comes to expansion. So while none of Buffalo’s goaltenders are signed through next season, they’re in much better shape than Calgary or Philadelphia, for example.
The Sabres are hardly the only team without a precise roadmap in goal in terms of the upcoming expansion draft. Philly and Calgary both have a pair of UFAs to decide on and a host of teams have goalies with NMCs but no signed backups who can be exposed. Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington all either have starters with an NMC or an obvious choice as to who they’ll protect. However, each has work to do in order to lock in a goalie who will be eligible to be exposed. Many of these teams will simply need to qualify their RFAs, so the work for many will be simple. Continue reading