Category Archives: Buf. Sabres

Predicting Protected Lists: Buffalo Sabres 

Despite heavily struggling in the past few seasons, the Buffalo Sabres still have plenty of high end players that require protection during the expansion draft. Losing someone of high influence is still unlikely though, which will obviously benefit Buffalo moving forward. 

New general manger Jason Botterill finds himself in a unique situation. He is obtaining one of the most coveted gigs in hockey, albeit he has an unusually high amount of work on his plate for these next few months. On top of trying to turn Buffalo back into a contender, Botterill has to worry about the expansion draft and the potential ramifications that it will have on his team. 

Luckily for the Sabres, Jack Eichel is exempt from being selected by Vegas. That opens up spot for them to protect another impact forward. 

Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo are sure-fire bets to be protected. 

Evander Kane is likely too, although he could be traded before the expansion draft happens. Kane’s fate is the biggest variable in Buffalo’s expansion draft plans. 

Outside of O’Reilly, Okposo, and Kane, the Sabres will have four forward spots remaining. Marcus Foligno and Zegmus Girgensons are good guesses to get spots. 

As for the other two, there is room for interpretation. 

William Carrier, acquired in the deal that sent Ryan Miller to Buffalo in 2014, requires protection. Carrier played in NHL 41 games last season and tallied 8 points. He’s been solid at the AHL level but needs to translate that success to the NHL level. 

Johan Larsson or Nick Deslauriers could both easily take a spot on the protection list over Carrier. It just depends on how Botterill thinks. 

For the last forward spot, it comes down to Matt Moulson or Tyler Ennis. Both are on bad contracts, however it can be argued that Moulson has more of a value due to off-ice factors. 

For defense, things are a little clearer.

Dmitry Kulikov and Cody Franson are both unrestricted free agents and probably wouldn’t get protection from Buffalo due to that. 

That leaves only three NHL mainstays — Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, and Zach Bogosian — to fill up the spots. 

In goal, Robin Lehner will undoubtedly be protected. 

In the end, the Sabres protection list could look like this:

Forwards: Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Marcus Foligno, Zegmus Girgensons, William Carrier, Matt Moulson

Defense: Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Zach Bogosian

Goalie: Robin Lehner 

In terms of players that could be selected, Johan Larsson, Nick Deslauriers, William Carrier (if unprotected), and Linus Ullmark are all options for Vegas. 

Next team: Calgary Flames

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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Five players who are likely to be moved at the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is almost upon us, and so far it is unclear what will happen when it officially rolls around. With expansion on the horizon, trades are at an all time low. The market is stagnant. However, that could change when teams feel the crunch before playoff time. Here are five players likely to move at or before the February 28th trade deadline.

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Trade Possibility: Dennis Wideman 

Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames could be on the move this summer. The 33 year old defenseman has one year left on his contract at a 5.25 million cap hit and a 6 million salary.  Read the rest of this entry

Colorado’s Barrie generating tons of interest 

Recently, reports came out from Elliotte Friedman that Tyson Barrie is likely to be moved by the Colorado Avalanche this summer.  Read the rest of this entry

Four potential suitors for Nail Yakupov

News came out yesterday that Nail Yakupov requested a trade from the Oilers prior to February’s trade deadline. The former first overall pick has seen his fair share of struggles in Edmonton, but has nonetheless proved to be a skilled player that can thrive in the correct situation. Many teams will be lining up to try to get Yakupov’s services for their team. 

Ottawa Senators 

The Senators have had a very disappointing year. Although they sit in the top-ten of goals for per game, they still are in need of another weapon up front. If they lose out on Jonathan Drouin, Yakupov would be a good option to fall back on. Ottawa may also be losing key offensive forward Mike Hoffman this offseason, so Yakupov would help fill that hole. 

Montreal Canadiens 

As yet another team up north struggling, Montreal needs to heavily re-evaluate their supporting cast around Carey Price this summer. Would coupling up Nail Yakupov with his half-Russian brethren Alex Galchenyuk, who was taken two picks after Yakupov in 2012, help spark their offense? They run the risk of another failed experiment, like Alex Semin, as there is no guarantee Yakupov will regain his mojo in a new city. 

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are loaded up front with young forwards such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Evander Kane, but Yakupov would be a nice addition to the middle six. The Sabres have dealt with serious depth issues this year with little to no production being brought in by Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, and Brian Gionta among others. 

New York Rangers

The Rangers have a lot more scoring prowess and depth than the aforementioned teams, but Nail Yakupov still could be a fit in the big apple. Slotting him into a second line role would potentially bump down the likes of Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg, but it adds another threat to the Rangers lineup and makes them more dangerous on the wing. 

There will be plenty of suitors with interest in Yakupov, the question that remains is if the Oilers will be willing to sell him for lower than what his ceiling may be. Edmonton has placed themselves in a tough situation, but regardless of what they get in return, it is clear that Yakupov and them both need to move on from each other. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Ladd deal to Chicago has potential to work out for both clubs 

The next big domino of the NHL trading season fell on Thursday night, when the Winnipeg Jets traded captain Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Marko Dano and a first round pick. Other assets were involved, like Jay Harrison and a conditional pick, but the latter was the lump of the deal. 

This will be Ladd’s second stint with Chicago, the city where he won a Stanley Cup in 2010. Ladd was a victim of the first of three large cap crunches Chicago has gone through. 

Both teams make out well on this trade, that is if Chicago wins the Cup again. The Blackhawks brought in Ladd to play along side Jonathan Toews, a spot formerly occupied by a number of players including Ryan Garbutt for a short period of time. 

The package coming back to Winnipeg sets them up quite nicely as well. Marko Dano, although bouncing around a lot from team to team, is a solid player with the potential to be a top-six forward. The Jets also add another first round pick, likely in the 24 to 30 range. The Jets are loaded up front for the future with the likes of Scheifele, Connor, Dano, Lemieux, Petan, Ehlers, Roslovic, and Armia. 

This deal sets up the market for the upcoming days. Beside Loui Eriksson, and maybe Mikkel Boedker depending how desperate teams are, Ladd was probably the priciest option out there. Actually, as the trade rumors came through, I was writing something up saying that teams that lose out on Ladd could potentially go after the similar but cheaper option in Jamie McGinn from Buffalo. Florida and Pittsburgh could be on that. 

We will likely see more trades come through before the deadline, which does take some of the excitement out of Monday, but it’s fun to see trades regardless. 

Other updates: 

-Like the Jets, other teams up north are gathering offers for some of their players before deadline day. Edmonton has been aggressively shopping Justin Schultz. Don’t be surprised if that gets done within 24 hours. Montreal has looked at options for Weise but nothing yet, that’ll probably wait for Monday. 

-A Loui Eriksson trade will likely have to wait until Monday at around 3 o’clock to come in. Boston doesn’t mind holding onto him either. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: one more month until the NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and is now about one month away. Teams are beginning to see whether or not they want to sell their players at the deadline meaning the speculation will continue to increase. 

The Buffalo Sabres are still shopping Tyler Ennis but to no avail yet. He has been disappointing this year and with a crowded top-six of young players in Buffalo, he may not have a spot. Due to his high salary, some will have to be retained. Jamie McGinn is also being looked at around the league, but Buffalo likes him. Could he pull a Matt Moulson and sign back with Buffalo in the summer after being traded? We’ll see. 

The Canucks have been looking around the league for potential suitors for Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis. The latter has had injury problems this year, however Vrbata would be a nice pickup for a team in the playoff hunt. Someone like Florida, Nashville, or one of the New York teams could have interest in the forward. 

The Coyotes are very reluctant to move Mikkel Boedker although nothing is impossible. The Danish left winger is due for a big pay increase from his current 3.75 million.

You wonder what the deal is with Yevgeni Medvedev and the Flyers is. He is a good defenseman and would be great for a playoff run for any team but the Flyers are still in the thick of the playoff race themselves. The Flyers also have an influx of young defensemen coming up through the system which could make Medvedev expendable. 

Keith Yandle continues to be shopped but nothing as of yet. It might be in best interest for the Rangers, given their closing window, to get this playoff run out of him. 

Columbus is expected to be very aggressive at the trade deadline. Although they have no big unrestricted free agents, certain names could be moved out such as Kerby Rychel. The David Clarkson contract has been thrown out there but to no takers. 

The Islanders seem to be at a gridlock with Travis Hamonic and Kyle Okposo. Hamonic’s trade won’t come until the offseason and the Islanders don’t want to give up Okposo for futures so they may end up keeping him and risk losing him to free agency. 

The Jets have equally looked around for Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Nothing is out of the question for the deadline for either player. Ladd is the more feasible option for the team, however. 

Don’t be surprised if the Anaheim Ducks make another move prior to February 29th. Likely a defense for offense move. 

More to come as the trade deadline draws nearer. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Could the Lady Byng winner this year be a defenseman?

Could this be the year we see a defenseman win the Lady Byng again, a feat accomplished only once since 1954? It’s quite possible. 

The player in mind is Rasmus Ristolainen. The Finnish-born defenseman was the 8th overall pick in 2013 and has taken a steady but impressive track to becoming a top defenseman on Buffalo and in the Eastern Conference. His name doesn’t necessarily flash out like Shea Weber or Duncan Keith, but he is a fantastic player. 

Ristolainen has 24 points in 33 games this year, but more impressively has not taken any penalties so far. His last penalty came in March of last season. His average ice time clocking in at just over 24 minutes make this even more impressive. 

Ristolainen is one of the best young defensemen in the league, and even though he may not be Norris worthy (yet), the Lady Byng should still be in the consideration. The competition will be tough, however, with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar as favorite candidates as well. 

Ironically, the last defenseman to win the Lady Byng before Red Kelly in 1954 was ex-Sabre Brian Campbell in 2011-2012, when he had six penalty minutes total. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Five players who haven’t lived up to early season expectations 

Thanksgiving has generally been the measuring stick for NHL teams on where they stand for their race to the playoffs, but this year may be different due to how close everyone is and how easily a spot can be stolen. However, the holiday is also a good spot to see where the players who make up your team stand. For some, this is a good sign. For many other players though, the time to turn it around is now. 

Jeff Skinner, Carolina

5 goals, 1 assist, -1 rating 

Skinner’s name has been surfaced in trade tumors over the past couple of years and his production has consistently dropped in that time. After an outstanding rookie year with 63 points, Skinner has only hit 50 points once in his three full seasons since. Albeit playing on a lackluster Hurricanes squad, the team still needs more out of their former seventh overall pick. Skinner is 23 and still could be moved before seasons end, and is currently on pace for 18 goals. 

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary

2 goals, 3 assists, -4 rating 

Many people were shocked when Boston traded the 22 year old defenseman to Calgary for a trio of picks this summer, but the transition hasn’t been smooth for Hamilton. An analytical atrocity last season, the Flames looked to shore up that issue in part with this acquisition, but not much has changed. Hamilton has struggled in both ends of the ice, and his offensive output simply hasn’t been on par with the .50 PPG pace he had last season. 

Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia 

0 goals, 3 assists, -11 rating

After a resurgence in his career last season with 32 points, Michael Del Zotto has seemingly fallen back into regression, although he still has 3/4th of the season to make amends. The 20th overall pick in 2008 by the Rangers found his game with Philly last year after a stint in Nashville, but like most other Flyers defensemen he has been unable to keep up in both ends of the rink. The Flyers are dead last in the NHL for goals for and eighth in goals against, and they need contributions from their defense to get out of both of those slumps. 

Michael Raffl, Philadelphia 

1 goal, 2 assists, -3 rating 

After notching 21 goals last year, Raffl has flopped like most other Flyers forwards this year. Currently on pace for four goals on the year, the Austrian native needs to desperately pick his game up. 

Zegmus Girgensons, Buffalo

1 goal, 1 assist, -1 rating

Much like Raffl, Girgensons is only on track for four goals this year. Girgensons had 30 points last year, good enough to get voted into the all-star game by his Latvian countrymen. Not flashy numbers, but good for a defensively minded forward. Girgensons, like Hamilton and Skinner, is young (22 in January) and still has plenty of time to turn it around. 

This stretch at the beginning of the year is not the end all and be all for any of the players on this list or that could have made this list. With such close standings, many of the teams with players here can easily turn it around and make themselves into a contender. Three fourths of the season remain. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Franson Signing Will Likely Cause Dominoe Effect

It’s been a long and patient summer for Cody Franson, but it has finally come to an end. Franson was considered one of the top free agents of the 2015 class, yet to the mystery of many hockey fans across the globe, remained unsigned until today, September 10th. Franson signed a two year deal with the Buffalo Sabres today worth 6.6 million total. The western Canada native had a great start to the year with Toronto, putting up 32 points in 55 games. However, after he was traded to Nashville at the deadline, he only had four points in 23 games, and two in five playoff games.  Read the rest of this entry

Sunday Blog: Franson, PTOs, and Al Arbour 

We’ve reached the dog days of the NHL offseason, which is a perfect time to start a new trend. I’ll try my best to post these Sunday blogs, just to talk, every week along with the regular content spread out accordingly.   Read the rest of this entry

Babcock’s Descision: What it Means for Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, San Jose, and New Jersey

The Mike Babcock sweepstakes is over. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Babcock will become the 30th head coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history, as he inked an eight year deal at 50 million total salary. Babcock was sought after by multiple teams, but in the end, money and organizational power were big determining factors. 
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