Make sure you are following our Instagram account (@TheChargingBUF). Each month I’ll make a post asking for Sabres questions for each mailbag post. There’ll be a good chance that your question will be addressed in the monthly post. Without further ado, lets get into this month’s questions.
“Do you think we could trade someone during the draft? Like Larsson…. because that would be very nice.”
I think that at the draft there would be a possibility of some trades for sure. I think that the overwhelming majority of the Sabres fan base would like to see Johan Larsson get traded before the start of next season but the thing is, would any of the other 30 teams in the league want him? Can’t imagine there’d be many takers on him but I’m sure someone will be looking for a 4th line center. Other guys that could possibly be moved in the offseason besides Larsson include Robin Lehner, Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, and Zemgus Girgensons. I consider Beaulieu and McCabe as potential players that can be moved because there’s just too many guys that should be up here next season and one of them would be the odd man out. Considering that Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Brendan Guhle, Casey Nelson, Zach Bogosian, and Victor Antipin most likely as the 7th defenseman if he doesn’t decide to go back to Russia. These guys will all be in Buffalo next season and that would only leave one spot in the top 6 for McCabe and Beaulieu. Winning the draft lottery and selecting Rasmus Dahlin would probably be the final nail in the coffin for McCabe and Beaulieu’s tenure as Sabres defensemen There’s just not enough room for them in that case.
Maybe add Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart to that list of players who could be dealt in the offseason but in their case I would say that the odds of them being traded are very slim. The way that Reinhart’s played since the new year is very encouraging and he’s starting to prove that he can be part of the solution here. Botterill has already stated that he doesn’t want to trade O’Reilly but I’m sure if the right offer came around he would consider it for sure. Botterill said on trade deadline day, this group of players just isn’t working. Some guys will move.
“What’s the likelihood of us trading our first round pick if it is not a top 5 pick”
Buffalo is sitting in a great spot right now for their draft positioning. I’d say that it is very, very unlikely that they will pick outside of the top six of the draft and in my opinion, the second drop off of the draft is probably around seven or eight. So if it were up to me, I wouldn’t trade that first round pick unless you’re getting a fantastic return. The top of this draft is just as good as any other draft from the last handful of seasons but instead of having a McDavid, Matthews, Eichel, or Laine at the very top, there’s one of the best defenseman prospects to come along in a very long time who will go number one in Rasmus Dahlin. Don’t trade that pick, Jason!
“What are we going to do about the dead weight on this team? What role do you see Rasmus Asplund playing if he’s on the team next year? Do you see Luukkonen coming to Rochester next year?”
When talking about the dead weight on this roster, I’m assuming that you’re talking about Bogosian, Moulson, Pominville, and Okposo. Those four players take up nearly $22 million in cap space for the Sabres. Yes, $22 milion. Okposo’s contract is indeed a burden to this team but he has shown over the last few months that he’s still at least capable of playing in the NHL unlike Moulson and Pominville. The team will need warm bodies next year so I’d keep Okposo for the next couple of seasons unless another GM puts on his stupid hat and strikes a deal to get him from Buffalo. A buyout for Okposo just doesn’t make any sense at this point because the cap penalties are just too much.
I get that Pominville has produced over the last couple of games but he has been invisible since November. If his name wasn’t Jason Pominville and wasn’t a Buffalo legend the played for the Buffalo teams from the glory days, fans would be running him out of town. Pominville could be an option for a trade. He only has a year left on his contract at $5.6 million. Maybe Buffalo could retain some of that cap and send him to a legit playoff team that’s looking for a veteran presence. I just can’t see a situation where Pominville is on the roster next season. Maybe they elect to use a buyout on him although I don’t think it’s very likely.
At this point in time, I’d be surprised if Matt Moulson isn’t bought out by the Sabres. They loaned him to the Ontario Reign rather than sending him to Rochester. It’s clear that they want nothing to do with him anymore. Buy him out and get some more cap room.
Zach Bogosian will be on this team for three reasons next season. One, who in the right state of mind would trade for that contract? Two, who would trade for someone who just can’t stay healthy? And three, I believe that Phil Housley and Jason Botterill actually like him as a player. Bogosian does get a lot of hate from the fans but he really isn’t that bad of a player. He’s just injured all the time and his contract isn’t favorable at all. But with Bogosian, at this point you can bank on him getting injured for an extended period of time next season and what does that mean? They can just place him on LTIR and get some cap relief. Also I doubt that they would buy him out in the offseason but if they decided to do that, I think it would be a good move.
I don’t think Asplund will be in Buffalo next season but I do see him playing an important role in Rochester as one of their top two centermen. If he performs in Rochester, maybe he’ll get his chance in Buffalo for a little bit but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will not be in Rochester next season. Expect him to stay in Finland for another year or two to develop his game before heading to North America.
“If we get the 4th overall pick who would you take Adam Boqvist or Quinn Hughes and why?”
The decision between Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, or even Brady Tkachuk will be a tough one for the team selecting fourth overall. Hughes and Boqvist are so close but I give the slightest edge to Quinn Hughes. Obviously I have been able to see a lot more of Hughes than Boqvist but both are great prospects and you can’t go wrong with either player. The reason that I’d go with Hughes over Boqvist is that I think Hughes is probably a little better defensively although both of them could improve their defensive game. Also I think Hughes is a better skater as well and that’s no indictment to Boqvist. Quinn Hughes may in fact just be the best skater in the draft. Both of them are elite skaters and I don’t think there’s any arguing that. If Buffalo ends up losing the lotteries for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pick, ending up with one of these two prospects may just be a blessing in disguise.
“Svechnikov or Zadina?”
Like the Hughes VS Boqvist conversation, Filip Zadina VS Andrei Svechnikov is also extremely close. I don’t think that there is any debating that Zadina out performed Svechnikov at the world juniors. But that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Svechnikov was poorly utilized by his coach and didn’t nearly get enough ice time to succeed in the tournament. I’d have give the edge to Svechnikov between the two of them. I believe that both of them could possibly be 30 goal scorers in the NHL. I just think that Svechnikov is better all around than Zadina and is also much better defensively. But if the Sabres have the luxury of picking 2nd or 3rd, again you can’t go wrong with either one. Both of them are having excellent years for their junior teams and I believe that both have the potential to be great goal scorers in this league.
“Which free agents should we pursue in the offseason?”
The simple answer here is just stay away from anyone in unrestricted free agency that isn’t named John Tavares. We go down this rabbit hole year after year and it’s just getting tiresome. It happens every year. Terrible contracts are given out year after year and then your team will pay the price for many years to come. I know people are looking at the UFA defensemen that are out there and the only one that’s really worth looking at is John Carlson of the Capitals. But would he really come here? I don’t think so. He’d command too much money anyways if he hits the market. I think he’ll end up staying in Washington on a hometown discount.
Now as far as restricted free agents go, I’m all for that. Every year there’s that one team that is just cap strapped and isn’t able to sign their top RFAs. So maybe an option for Buffalo could be to trade for the rights of an RFA who can’t come to terms on a contract with their team. Or maybe even swing a trade for an NHL calibre player on a cap strapped team so they can clear the cap space necessary to sign their RFA. A handful of guys that come to mind that are RFAs include Josh Morrissey, Jacob Trouba, Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker, Ryan Murray, and Brandon Montour.
Also I expect Buffalo to be big players in the NCAA free agent market in the coming weeks. We’ll have a post highlighting some of the top NCAA free agents soon but a couple names that will be out there that I like are F Andrew Sturtz and D Daniel Brickley.
Buffalo Sportz asks…
“Who are your top 10 players in the draft?”
Right now I’d say…
D Rasmus Dahlin
F Andrei Svechnikov
F Filip Zadina
D Quinn Hughes
D Adam Boqvist
F Brady Tkachuk
F Oliver Wahlstrom
D Evan Bouchard
D Noah Dobson
D Ty Smith
Our March 2018 NHL Draft Ranking will be released in the coming weeks so stay tuned…
“Watcha think about Nylander?”
The thought of giving up on a kid who just turned 20 is just insane. If Alex Nylander was lets just say Canadian, he’d still be in Mississauga and he’d have like 95 points and fans would be pumped. But the Sabres have the luxury of having the ability of playing him in Rochester so he can get acclimated to the professional game. He’s playing against men and it’s good for his development. I listened to Craig Button on WGR a few weeks back and he brought up the idea that Nylander should’ve stayed in the OHL last season instead of entering the AHL as an 18 year old. At the time I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Nyalnder starting in Rochester but looking back on it, it was most certainly the wrong decision. Playing in the AHL probably just killed his confidence but luckily he has been playing better as of late. It’s a good sign but he needs to build that consistency in his game and improve his work ethic on the ice as well as his play away from the puck. If he continues to improve his game, maybe throw him a bone and call him up for the last game or two of the season. Why not? It doesn’t hurt to just see what he can do at the NHL level again and to reward him for playing better. I believe that Nylander could be a major wildcard to make the roster next season. Another offseason of him getting stronger could help his case to make the roster but I still think that as of now, he’ll be starting out in Rochester next season. Another thing that Button said on WGR was that he compared the Nylander situation to Marcus Naslund. Naslund was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and they gave up on him way too early and traded him to the Canucks and then the rest is history. It’s too early to give up on Nylander. Give it time because he’s a talented prospect and could still be an important piece to this team’s future.
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