Pre-Draft Mailbag

It’s finally here, the 2018 NHL Draft is almost upon us and as we’re entering draft week, I’m going to answer some of your questions regarding the Sabres and the NHL draft.

When you look at Buffalo’s roster, there are a lot of glaring holes. I believe that they still need to add a top four defenseman, even with the inclusion of Dahlin. That may be a tall task for Jason Botterill but it may be possible if they decide to move Ryan O’Reilly.

They need to bring in a goaltender that is capable of playing 30 plus games that can challenge Linus Ullmark. We all love Ullmark in Buffalo but to expect him to just come in here and play like a legitimate NHL starting goaltender may be too much to ask of him. He’s a young goalie and I think it will take time for him to develop into a starter. So adding a guy like Carter Hutton or Jonathan Bernier through free agency would be a big help for him.

I think the biggest need for this team at the moment is on the wing. Now Sam Reinhart isn’t signed yet but when he is, he will be the only legitimate top six winger that they have on the team and that is a huge concern. Now some may be scratching their heads with that statement but I think that Kyle Okposo is more of a third line winger at this point in time. So they really have to address the wing this offseason. They have been connected to Jeff Skinner and there are also rumblings as of late that say that Max Pacioretty and Rick Nash could also be options for the team in the offseason. A player that I would like to see return is Thomas Vanek. This may be a hot take but I don’t really care that he’s good at skating anymore. Year after year, Vanek signs a team friendly deal and he can still put up 20 plus goals. The Sabres could use another 20 goal scorer, or two, or three. They need to score more goals, and that was pretty evident if you watched them play last season.

This has been something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile now. Don’t get me wrong, but I’m a huge fan of Jake McCabe’s game and was expecting a huge jump from him under Housley last season. Unforntunately, McCabe had a pretty rough year and suffered through a lot of injuries. I’d like to see him get another shot with the team but if you look at what they have on paper, he may be the odd man out. If it were up to me, these would be the pairs that I would like to see…

Guhle-Ristolainen
Scandella-Dahlin
Pilut-Bogosian
Nelson

McCabe->Traded
Beaulieu->Waived/Traded/Rochester

I believe that McCabe still holds value around the league and could fetch Buffalo a top nine winger that they are in desperate need of. I like McCabe but they have too many players on their defense that are third pairing defensemen. He’s expendable now that they will be drafting Dahlin.

Really tough one here but my top five would be…

  1. Mittelstadt
  2. Eichel
  3. Reinhart
  4. Dahlin
  5. Guhle

The only two Tim Murray guys who I think won’t be on the opening night roster are Robin Lehner and Ryan O’Reilly. The Sabres tried to trade Lehner at the deadline but they either couldn’t get the return that they were looking for or that there was just not enough interest. I’d go to assume that they are still trying to trade him and there are a few teams that are looking for goalie help but there are more attractive names on the market, like Philipp Grubauer. Carolina and the New York Islanders could be potential destinations but only time will tell. If they can’t trade Lehner, I think that they won’t even tender him a qualifying offer and that he will hit unrestricted free agency.

On O’Reilly, I think he is as good as gone. I like him as a player but going forward, he will probably be the team’s third line center and spending $7.5M on the cap for a third line center is crazy in my opinion. I don’t think that they necessarily have to move him now because they don’t really need to. The cap isn’t really a problem for the Sabres at the moment but I think he will definately be traded by the time Rasmus Dahlin needs his new contract in a few seasons. But the interest is supposedly high in O’Reilly and if Jason Botterill can get the return that he’s looking for, he’ll move him. There’s no rush to trade Ryan O’Reilly. But I do believe a team will make an offer that Botterill can’t refuse whether it’s at the draft or at some point in the offseason.

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I agree with you saying that Ottawa will be the worst in the Atlantic for awhile. Just everything surrounding their orgaization is a mess and if you listened to our last podcast, you can tell just how annoyed that I get just talking about them. You can check that out Here if you haven’t already. But on Detroit and Montreal, out of those two teams, I think Montreal is in worse shape but it’s pretty close. I’d give the slight edge to Detroit as far as their prospects go and I’m more confident that Detroit will draft key players to their future with the massive amount of draft picks that they’ve collected over the last few seasons. Both teams are a mess but I think Montreal just has no direction in where they want to go. At least Detroit is kind of trying a rebuild on the fly but Montreal still thinks that they’re a playoff team and that’s just not the case anymore. They have no centers and they keep getting burned on just about every trade that they make. I truly feel bad for Habs fans. They deserve better.

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I don’t think it will translate bad at all. I’ve seen the argument made that Delandrea’s production was inflated because of him playing on a bad team in Flint but frankly, I just don’t see that making any sense at all. When you watch him play, he’s just a force out there. His shot is crazy, he can skate, he plays a well rounded game, and he has great character. He’s everything that Buffalo would be looking for in a prospect at 32. But I think if he played on a better team it’s pretty safe to say that his production would have been even better. And Dellandrea is probably at least two years away from the NHL and I don’t think Buffalo will be a poor team by then. The big problem at the moment is that I don’t think Dellenadrea will even be available at 32 anymore after watching more of him the past month. If he’s still there at 32, he’s a can’t miss pick there and he would be a huge add for Buffalo’s future.

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I may be in the minority here but I say that Buffalo should try and go long term for Reinhart. If they can get him for 6-8 years at a reasonable AAV like how Nashville have consistently done with their RFAs  it could end up working out great. Hypothetial scenerio here but, say Reinhart signs a 2-3 year deal and he plays at the level that he played in the second half of last season consistently. Then at the end of that contract you’re looking at having to pay him upwards of $7M and at that point Buffalo will be investing probably over $20M in Eichel and Dahlin combined. So Botterill may be able to save a million or two by going long term on Sam Reinhart. It’s a risk for sure but I think that’s a risk worth taking. I mentioned Nashville earlier and because they take those gambles on players like Josi, Arvidsson, Ellis, and Jarnkrok, it then gives them cap flexability to go out and trade for a big money player like P.K. Subban and it also allows them to pay Ryan Johansen. Nashville’s recent success can certainly be attributed to their great contracts that they give to their RFAs. After watching Sam Reinhart in the second half of last season, I think he’s worth taking a shot on a long term contract. That is of course if it’s a reasonable AAV. I’m not suggesting that they should pay him over $6M this offseason. If they can get him in the $5-$6M range for a long term deal, that would be a win for Buffalo.

Keep it locked in on TCB this week for more draft coverage. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TheChargingBUF and you can also find me on Twitter @JoeTCBNHL

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