Mid-Summer NHL Mailbag

We’re reached the peak boredom stage of the NHL offseason so I decided to take to Twitter for some questions. The questions could be anything NHL related and not just limited to the Sabres so that’s why you’ll notice some discussion about other teams. If you asked something that wasn’t answered it was likely because there was another question asking practically the same thing or something similar, so I’d still read through and look for an answer.

Q&A

Martin Necas – CAR

Huuuge Martin Necas fan. He’ll get overshadowed by Svechnikov a bit but I’ve been a big fan of Necas dating back to his draft year. He showcased that he’s a top prospect at the World Juniors this past season and reminds me a lot of David Pastrnak. He should play a significant role in Carolina this season with Lindholm headed to Calgary and should be a monster on the power-play playing the left half-wall.

Daniel Sprong – PIT

Sprong is a natural goal scorer and is coming off a great season in the AHL. He looked great in his short stint with the Penguins and should be a full-time guy come next season. His offensive ability paired with Crosby or Malkin is recipe for a big season and Calder contention.

Robert Thomas – STL

Thomas is a guy a lot of Sabres fans wanted coming back in a Ryan O’Reilly trade. I said the whole time there’s no chance the Blues would move him and wasn’t the least bit shocked when he wasn’t part of the deal. Although it’ll show best for his development, Thomas’ calder chances probably took a hit with the acquisition of O’Reilly. Thomas will likely start on the third line, but the shifty two-way center could play a crucial role with a new-look Blues team that’s destined to be dangerous.

Some honorable mentions: Miro Heiskanen, Filip Chytil, Ryan Donato, Henrik Borgstrom.

Florida/Carolina are my choices for dark horse to make the playoffs.

I don’t know if they’re exactly a dark horse but I’ll pick St. Louis as the off-the-page cup team. They need to get better goaltending from Jake Allen but they have a lot to like down the middle and on defense. If Fabbri can bounce back from the torn ACL’s and rookies like Kyrou and Thomas can produce on ELC’s they’ll be dangerous.

He’ll get his shot, but it may be his last (in Buffalo at least). I think he’ll start the season in the bottom six to improve overall team speed right out of the gate, what he does from there is up to him. At this point in his career I don’t see him turning into more than a bottom six guy who’s going to bring speed and physicality, but if he can hit his ceiling maybe we see him produce like he was once expected to. Signing one-year deals, it’s make it or break it for Bailey and Baptiste.

I think the general consensus when Sheary was acquired was that he was brought in to play on Eichel’s wing. Jack hasn’t had a line-mate other than Evander Kane that’s established themselves as a goal scorer in the modern NHL (hi Matt Moulson). A lot of people attest Sheary’s success with Pittsburgh to playing with Sidney Crosby, but someone who can produce off their center’s ability is exactly what the Sabres have lacked and may have found in Sheary.

Sam Steel by a mile, and that’s not even anything against Max Jones. Steel is someone I definitely see outperforming their draft position and he was dynamic in the memorial cup with Regina. He was great with Canada at the World Juniors and a big factor in their gold medal run as well.

I’ve watched a lot of Nylander since being drafted by the Sabres and I think the bigger question is, “How good does Alex Nylander want to be?” He has all the skill in the world and from recent pictures he has clearly put on the muscle. The biggest problem I have with Nylander is his effort, rather than his physical tools. He often times just looks un-engaged from the play and like he doesn’t have a care in the world until he gets the puck. Then at times when he does get the puck, he’s caught flat footed and hasn’t gathered up the speed to make a play because he was just standing there looking around until he got it.

I think the Sabres have a lot more in Nylander than he’s shown so far, but he needs to be more involved and show some effort before any of that potential starts to come out.

Stone has a really good case, I think he ends up somewhere between 7.5-8M AAV. Ceci’s QO came to a 3.35M AAV and I’d expect him to get around 3.7M.

No chance.

Probably a lot of bad, bad, things to NHL defenseman. A virtual lock to be a calder finalist in my eyes and could put up anywhere from 50-75 points. Him and Boeser on the power-play together is gonna be a ton of fun to watch; even better if Quinn Hughes doesn’t return to Michigan and turns pro.

I’d say so. The only other thing I could maybe see them doing is shipping out a left-handed defenseman like McCabe or Scandella for some scoring help with the logjam there, but at this point it seems like they’re going to go into training camp with this roster and see what they have. Marco Scandella only has this and next season left on his deal, but he definitely has value being in the lineup.

The Atlantic is stacked up top with Boston, Toronto and Tampa, solid in the middle with Florida and Buffalo, then it just gets sooo bad with Detroit, Montreal, and Ottawa moving forward.

I’d have to go with the Central Division. Winnipeg, Nashville, and St. Louis are all contenders and matchup pretty well with the top of the Atlantic. Although not the powerhouse they once were, Blackhawks still have Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Debrincat, Jonathan Toews, and hopefully a healthy Corey Crawford back this year. Colorado look to be in really good shape moving forward, Dallas will be better than last year whether they have young stud Miro Heiskanen in the lineup or land Erik Karlsson, Minnesota doesn’t look to be a pushover any time soon.

Yes. As someone who sees the Bruins at least five times a year against Buffalo and catch a lot of their national games, I think it’s crazy this is even a question. Same goes for Corey Crawford in Chicago.

Carolina’s gonna be scary moving forward. Top two defense in the league in my opinion and I think they have three absolute studs in Necas, Svechnikov, and Aho. Once they figure out their goaltending they’re going to be good for a long time.

Alluded to this above but yes.

26-18-44

I see them as the 5th best team in the division right now. If guys step up and things go their way I think they could overtake Florida, but right now it wouldn’t be fair to predict that.

I think so.

Linus Ullmark/Carter Hutton and bottom six production. Dahlin/Mittelstadt would need to have Calder finalist worthy campaigns as well. Also need Kyle Okposo to return to form.

I honestly think he could seamlessly make the transition to the NHL right away but knowing how Jason Botterill works there’s no rush and he likely starts with the Amerks.

No order: Ottawa, Detroit, Montreal, Islanders, Rangers.

Thanks to all who sent in questions! Had a great time talking about more than just the Sabres. Make sure to follow me for more @JxredNHL and send me a tweet letting me know if you’d like to see more of these.

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