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yave1964

Sabres offseason preview

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Ausa-today-9956048.0.jpg

A QUICK LOOK BACK AT 2016-17:

 

  The Sabres entered the season cautiously optomistic that they would compete for a playoff spot, Eichel another year older, a new toy for him to play with in Okposo led to hopes that they would be competitive.

  It did not happen. First, Eichel missed the first twenty one games of the season with an injury During that time they had losing streaks of 4 and 6 games, and the train was off the tracks.

  Let me be clear, they werent bad, but neither were they good all year either. They never got more than a couple of games above or below .500 all year. They just kind of hovered there as a middling team all year. Eichel was a point a game player but the worst faceoff man in all of Hockey to take a regular shift statistically. Okposo only netted 19 goals. Ristolainen had a tale of two seasons, he was a God in the first half and non existent in the second. Robin Lehner was like a Eastwood movie, Good, Bad and Ugly. Evander Kane was awful for the first half but dialed it up in the second. They just never seemed to have all the key pieces playing well at the same time, nor did they play poorly at the same time either. Thus, a middling season. at seasons end coach Dan Bylsma was let go.

 

 FREE AGENTS:

 

Brian Gionta: Finally out from under his absurd deal. 38 years old, was not bad last year but likely wont be back at any price.

 

Dmitri Kulikov: Supposed to be a key defenseman after coming over from Florida was a non entity.

 

Cody Franson: Okay defenseman says he wants to return. Good luck.

 

Anders Nilsson: Backup tender put up decent numbers at bargain deal. 

 

 In short all of the free agents have said they would like to come back, all were okay, Nilsson probably the best but none really a big deal if they dont come back.

 

BIG OFFSEASON QUESTIONS:

 

1) WHO IS THE COACH? New GM Jason Botterill is rumored to be in talks with Pens assistant Rich Tocchett who would be a good signing and Predators assistant and long time Sabre Phil Housley who would be the popular pick. 

 

2) IS LEHNER THE ANSWER IN NET? Being blunt, he wasnt THAT bad, he had stretches last year where he was one of the teams key players. He started 59 games, among the leagues highest totals, had a .920 save pct. as well. He is fiery and protects his net well.

 That said, Lehner also has looked lost at times in buffalo. Rumors are swirling that they may move on in net. at the least his time to produce is getting short.

 

3) WHAT TO DO WITH EVANDER KANE? Kane is an enigma, looking lost to begin the year, around the time they looked ready to move on he became one of the games top goal scorers over the second half to go along with his usual rugged play. That is who he is, a hot stretch, coming back late from the NBA all star game the year before, ran out of Winnipeg by Big Buff and the crew the year before. Every year there is something. 

  Now there are rumors that  the Los Angeles Kings have come calling possible dangling a top four defenseman as the bait in a potential deal. So does Botterill decide the second half of Kane's season was him finally maturing and turning a corner or does he make a move now while his stock is highest?

 

4) IS EICHEL A CENTER OR SHOULD HE BE MOVED TO THE WING? Here me out, yeah he had 57 points in 61 games and was near brilliant at times but he was the bar none worst in all of Hockey in the dot at faceoffs last year. He might be better served, at least short term by moving to the wing. A line centered by Ryan O'Reilly who is among the games best faceoff guys and a brilliant setup man with Eichel and Sam Reinhart on the wings would give the league fits. Yeah I know looking at the success that McDavid is having may make this sound absurd but IMHO Eichel would put up even better numbers in a less demanding position on the wing-at least short term.

 

5) CAN ANYONE PLAY DEFENSE? REALLY? This is a pathetic defense, Ristolainen is an offensive force at times but still looks lost in his own zone and is a work in progress. Nobody else stands out, Even the kids, Mccabe and Carrier are meh. Gorges, the wrong Justin Falk and whatever Zach Bogosian can still do after slipping for years and continuously being hurt combine with Risto to make up the back end. Really. It does not matter what Lehner does or who plays wing or center or who coaches this Motley Crew if they dont fix the defense. It is awful.

 

 So an offseason of big decisions, I would not be surprised if Kane is dealt for a defenseman which makes sense, if Housley is hired as the coach which does not and if Lehner is given one final shot in net. Alexander Nylander hopes to break through as an important rookie and has a good pedigree and there are a few other wingers in the system ready to step into the breach. They are desperate on defense and if they do not fix that they will remain a middle of the pack club.

 

 

 

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On 6/15/2017 at 7:30 AM, yave1964 said:

 

Ausa-today-9956048.0.jpg

A QUICK LOOK BACK AT 2016-17:

 

  The Sabres entered the season cautiously optomistic that they would compete for a playoff spot, Eichel another year older, a new toy for him to play with in Okposo led to hopes that they would be competitive.

  It did not happen. First, Eichel missed the first twenty one games of the season with an injury During that time they had losing streaks of 4 and 6 games, and the train was off the tracks.

  Let me be clear, they werent bad, but neither were they good all year either. They never got more than a couple of games above or below .500 all year. They just kind of hovered there as a middling team all year. Eichel was a point a game player but the worst faceoff man in all of Hockey to take a regular shift statistically. Okposo only netted 19 goals. Ristolainen had a tale of two seasons, he was a God in the first half and non existent in the second. Robin Lehner was like a Eastwood movie, Good, Bad and Ugly. Evander Kane was awful for the first half but dialed it up in the second. They just never seemed to have all the key pieces playing well at the same time, nor did they play poorly at the same time either. Thus, a middling season. at seasons end coach Dan Bylsma was let go.

 

 FREE AGENTS:

 

Brian Gionta: Finally out from under his absurd deal. 38 years old, was not bad last year but likely wont be back at any price.

 

Dmitri Kulikov: Supposed to be a key defenseman after coming over from Florida was a non entity.

 

Cody Franson: Okay defenseman says he wants to return. Good luck.

 

Anders Nilsson: Backup tender put up decent numbers at bargain deal. 

 

 In short all of the free agents have said they would like to come back, all were okay, Nilsson probably the best but none really a big deal if they dont come back.

 

BIG OFFSEASON QUESTIONS:

 

1) WHO IS THE COACH? New GM Jason Botterill is rumored to be in talks with Pens assistant Rich Tocchett who would be a good signing and Predators assistant and long time Sabre Phil Housley who would be the popular pick. 

 

2) IS LEHNER THE ANSWER IN NET? Being blunt, he wasnt THAT bad, he had stretches last year where he was one of the teams key players. He started 59 games, among the leagues highest totals, had a .920 save pct. as well. He is fiery and protects his net well.

 That said, Lehner also has looked lost at times in buffalo. Rumors are swirling that they may move on in net. at the least his time to produce is getting short.

 

3) WHAT TO DO WITH EVANDER KANE? Kane is an enigma, looking lost to begin the year, around the time they looked ready to move on he became one of the games top goal scorers over the second half to go along with his usual rugged play. That is who he is, a hot stretch, coming back late from the NBA all star game the year before, ran out of Winnipeg by Big Buff and the crew the year before. Every year there is something. 

  Now there are rumors that  the Los Angeles Kings have come calling possible dangling a top four defenseman as the bait in a potential deal. So does Botterill decide the second half of Kane's season was him finally maturing and turning a corner or does he make a move now while his stock is highest?

 

4) IS EICHEL A CENTER OR SHOULD HE BE MOVED TO THE WING? Here me out, yeah he had 57 points in 61 games and was near brilliant at times but he was the bar none worst in all of Hockey in the dot at faceoffs last year. He might be better served, at least short term by moving to the wing. A line centered by Ryan O'Reilly who is among the games best faceoff guys and a brilliant setup man with Eichel and Sam Reinhart on the wings would give the league fits. Yeah I know looking at the success that McDavid is having may make this sound absurd but IMHO Eichel would put up even better numbers in a less demanding position on the wing-at least short term.

 

5) CAN ANYONE PLAY DEFENSE? REALLY? This is a pathetic defense, Ristolainen is an offensive force at times but still looks lost in his own zone and is a work in progress. Nobody else stands out, Even the kids, Mccabe and Carrier are meh. Gorges, the wrong Justin Falk and whatever Zach Bogosian can still do after slipping for years and continuously being hurt combine with Risto to make up the back end. Really. It does not matter what Lehner does or who plays wing or center or who coaches this Motley Crew if they dont fix the defense. It is awful.

 

 So an offseason of big decisions, I would not be surprised if Kane is dealt for a defenseman which makes sense, if Housley is hired as the coach which does not and if Lehner is given one final shot in net. Alexander Nylander hopes to break through as an important rookie and has a good pedigree and there are a few other wingers in the system ready to step into the breach. They are desperate on defense and if they do not fix that they will remain a middle of the pack club.

 

 

 

Yes to Eichel on the Wing if he is willing.  I want Lehner gone.  Period.  I know he is not the guy.  I saw him on  a  breakaway in a shootout and he handled one play so far off how Miller would have.  Miller knew hot to shut down a breakaway.  Lehner was terrible in shootouts.  Do you think that is just going to go away?  He sucks.  I do not like him. Obviously they have plans for Ullmark but perhaps only for assignment in Rochester.  There is a fan base there that they care about so Ullmark might be the guy in Rochester for some time?  He is no doubt AHL very good.  Nut sure he has the potential to win the job in Buffalo.  I am for getting someone outside.  If it cant be Miller, then maybe one of the Pittsburgh goalies?  Why would they want to be a backup?  One of them is going to be.  Murray and Fleury.  One has to go. I would take either.  I believe the Kings have the same situation.   Quick is not going anywhere.  So isnt Bishop there?  Not sure. But no way can those two co exist for an entire season.  I hope to see Lehner on the expansion wire and I hope the Golden Knights take him.  Not that I wish them any bad but he could be the backup maybe?   As far as the defense, I hope Gorges is gone.  He sucks.  Ristolainen is good so I disagree.  Yes he is more of an offensive type.  But he can certainly take out someone in the crease. He is a big boy He is going to win the Norris someday, I am telling you.  He is a top 5 defenseman in the NHL.  He is young. Begosian to me is good but yes they need the stay home type of guy and I am sure it will be addressed.  Easier to find a stay home defenseman you can count on than a 30 goal scorer even.  I am glad they hired a coach that is an ex Sabre.  I mean a true Sabre.  Not a guy that just stopped by.  Housley's loyalty is to Buffalo first.  I have no doubt. 

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On 6/15/2017 at 7:30 AM, yave1964 said:

 

Ausa-today-9956048.0.jpg

A QUICK LOOK BACK AT 2016-17:

 

  The Sabres entered the season cautiously optomistic that they would compete for a playoff spot, Eichel another year older, a new toy for him to play with in Okposo led to hopes that they would be competitive.

  It did not happen. First, Eichel missed the first twenty one games of the season with an injury During that time they had losing streaks of 4 and 6 games, and the train was off the tracks.

  Let me be clear, they werent bad, but neither were they good all year either. They never got more than a couple of games above or below .500 all year. They just kind of hovered there as a middling team all year. Eichel was a point a game player but the worst faceoff man in all of Hockey to take a regular shift statistically. Okposo only netted 19 goals. Ristolainen had a tale of two seasons, he was a God in the first half and non existent in the second. Robin Lehner was like a Eastwood movie, Good, Bad and Ugly. Evander Kane was awful for the first half but dialed it up in the second. They just never seemed to have all the key pieces playing well at the same time, nor did they play poorly at the same time either. Thus, a middling season. at seasons end coach Dan Bylsma was let go.

 

 FREE AGENTS:

 

Brian Gionta: Finally out from under his absurd deal. 38 years old, was not bad last year but likely wont be back at any price.

 

Dmitri Kulikov: Supposed to be a key defenseman after coming over from Florida was a non entity.

 

Cody Franson: Okay defenseman says he wants to return. Good luck.

 

Anders Nilsson: Backup tender put up decent numbers at bargain deal. 

 

 In short all of the free agents have said they would like to come back, all were okay, Nilsson probably the best but none really a big deal if they dont come back.

 

BIG OFFSEASON QUESTIONS:

 

1) WHO IS THE COACH? New GM Jason Botterill is rumored to be in talks with Pens assistant Rich Tocchett who would be a good signing and Predators assistant and long time Sabre Phil Housley who would be the popular pick. 

 

2) IS LEHNER THE ANSWER IN NET? Being blunt, he wasnt THAT bad, he had stretches last year where he was one of the teams key players. He started 59 games, among the leagues highest totals, had a .920 save pct. as well. He is fiery and protects his net well.

 That said, Lehner also has looked lost at times in buffalo. Rumors are swirling that they may move on in net. at the least his time to produce is getting short.

 

3) WHAT TO DO WITH EVANDER KANE? Kane is an enigma, looking lost to begin the year, around the time they looked ready to move on he became one of the games top goal scorers over the second half to go along with his usual rugged play. That is who he is, a hot stretch, coming back late from the NBA all star game the year before, ran out of Winnipeg by Big Buff and the crew the year before. Every year there is something. 

  Now there are rumors that  the Los Angeles Kings have come calling possible dangling a top four defenseman as the bait in a potential deal. So does Botterill decide the second half of Kane's season was him finally maturing and turning a corner or does he make a move now while his stock is highest?

 

4) IS EICHEL A CENTER OR SHOULD HE BE MOVED TO THE WING? Here me out, yeah he had 57 points in 61 games and was near brilliant at times but he was the bar none worst in all of Hockey in the dot at faceoffs last year. He might be better served, at least short term by moving to the wing. A line centered by Ryan O'Reilly who is among the games best faceoff guys and a brilliant setup man with Eichel and Sam Reinhart on the wings would give the league fits. Yeah I know looking at the success that McDavid is having may make this sound absurd but IMHO Eichel would put up even better numbers in a less demanding position on the wing-at least short term.

 

5) CAN ANYONE PLAY DEFENSE? REALLY? This is a pathetic defense, Ristolainen is an offensive force at times but still looks lost in his own zone and is a work in progress. Nobody else stands out, Even the kids, Mccabe and Carrier are meh. Gorges, the wrong Justin Falk and whatever Zach Bogosian can still do after slipping for years and continuously being hurt combine with Risto to make up the back end. Really. It does not matter what Lehner does or who plays wing or center or who coaches this Motley Crew if they dont fix the defense. It is awful.

 

 So an offseason of big decisions, I would not be surprised if Kane is dealt for a defenseman which makes sense, if Housley is hired as the coach which does not and if Lehner is given one final shot in net. Alexander Nylander hopes to break through as an important rookie and has a good pedigree and there are a few other wingers in the system ready to step into the breach. They are desperate on defense and if they do not fix that they will remain a middle of the pack club.

 

 

 

Well this was an old article.    Some of these questions are answered  and some are not.  Too soon to say the D is awful.  Moves have been made.  Housley is the new coach.  He was a defenseman all be it the offensive type like Rasmus Ristolainen.  He will find the right combo to  get the most out of Eichel and Okposo and Kane and O'Reilly, I have little doubt.  The D is a big question as is the goaltending.  I believe Chad Johnson can beat Lehner out but likely its going to be much split duty to keep eich of them fresh.  If this kid can develope ahead of schedule in Rochester, don't rule out a call up.I believe some teams in the East have dropped off, which could help us?  

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