Photo credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
I do have statistical goals for Eichel, but I know he’ll end up with the most points on the team anyways, so I decided to go in another direction: Continue to build leadership on and off the ice.
When the Sabres need a big play, I want to see Eichel part of it, either scoring or assisting (not saying he hasn’t in the past, just reinforcing the importance of this to me).
When they need someone to stand up after a tough game/stretch and answer every last question from the media, even if it’s irritating, Eichel needs to continue to show growth there too.
The pressure is on in Buffalo and all eyes will be on the soon to be 23-year-old face of the franchise.
I’d really like to see Pekar fill in on the third line in Rochester. I know some games will be rough for him, especially since he was out since January 10 with a broken collarbone. It’s those games that will help him grow, even if he needs to watch the next one from the press box.
If he can give the Amerks 10 goals, 20 assists in over 50, but less than 76 games in a third line role, that’s a success to me. I won’t be upset if this year isn’t stellar, patience will be important with him. With time comes confidence and that’s where you’ll see more offensive from him.
This is a goal for management because I was so angry last year with how they handled him. Just send the kid down, stop trying to save face after the ROR trade. Even if they were impressed with his Prospect Challenge and training camp performances, it fizzled out.
If he was down in Rochester LIKE HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN, I feel like very few would be ripping him. He’s attached attached to the Ryan O’Reilly trade will always stick with him and it’s unfortunate.
So, my goal for Thompson? Let the kid develop down in Rochester for at least have him play half a season. Don’t put him in the f’ing press box for a week when he could be playing top-6 minutes in Rochester.
And that’s on Botterill, not former coach Phil Housley in my eyes. The coach makes the lineup, the GM provides the roster. If Botterill eats crow and sends him down, then Housley wouldn’t have shoved him in the press box.
I get it, he probably doesn’t want to, I wouldn’t either. With private flights and 5 star hotels, it’s tough to transition back to long bus rides; but for the benefit of everyone, make him do it. Let him earn his way back by producing for the Amerks.
He needs help getting the mental side of the game down, it’ll be a lot easier under Chris Taylor’s watch than on national TV in front of Sabres fans that are ready to pounce.
Just…..be better. Ben Mathewson said it best and I’ll leave it at that.
I want to preface this by saying I like both Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark a lot. They seem like great guys and care a lot about the success of the team.
That said, I want to see Linus Ullmark steal the starting job from Hutton. He needs to earn that after a 3.11 GAA and .905 S% campaign last season.
Ullmark may not be the starter of the future, but if he can’t beat out Hutton, a career backup, then I expect him to be nothing more than the same. That’s not necessarily an issue for the future, the importance of a rock solid backup cannot be understated, but it is for the present.
Again, having a backup goalie the team is confident will play well when called upon is a significant factor in building a consistently successful franchise. If Ullmark ends up being in that category, that’s great for the future when Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is the starter for Buffalo years down the road, but it doesn’t help the Sabres this season, especially if Hutton struggles.