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GASabresIUFAN

Defense Next Year - Could we see major change?

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One subtle acquisition this year was Jack Dougherty who we acquired from Nashville for Nick Baptiste.  JD is a mobile defensively responsible RHD who once he got healthy has become one of the Amerks best defenders.  His +19 is reflective of his ability to keep opponents at bay.  A skill we sorely lack.  

I bring this up because I think the biggest issue with the Sabres is the defense.  Outside McCabe we simply don’t play it. While we have 8 D signed for next year. McCabe is an RFA. Of the signed D all except Risto and Dahlin are on one year deals.  This gives Jbot great flexibility to change things. 

Right now I think only 2 D are certain to be here next season; Dahlin and Montour.  After that there are serious questions to be answered.

1. Ristolainen - big, physical, skates well and consistent offense threat.  However he hasn’t seem to have improved in our zone. Still young and on a reasonable contract he might also be the chip we need to get the 2nd line center we desperately need.  Add that Montour and Dahlin can take on the offense and Kids like JD and Borgen might force themselves into the lineup, I think there is a reasonable chance he gets traded.

2.  McCabe -  He is the ultimate Swiss Army knife defender. Mobile with size. Can add offense, be physical, pass well and defend. Personally I think it unlikely we don’t re-sign him. The question is how much and for what term. The trading of Guhle and Baloo make re-signing him a priority.  Still could someone make Jbot an offer he can’t refuse like TB for JT Miller?

3. Scandella -  one year left on his deal.  He has all the tools, except top end speed but hasn’t shown them this year like last.  Injuries may be a factor. Likely has some value in the trade market and I can see Jbot moving him to save cap to use on upgrades upfront.

4.  Bogo - the RHD version of Scandella but maybe more physical.  5 mill salary may make him hard to trade but if we eat some money someone will take him.  I like to see Risto stay and him to go in favor of one the kids.

5. Pilut - smallish rookie dominated in the A and had some good moments in Buffalo.  Needs more strength on the puck if he is going to make it in the NHL.  I do think he made Guhle expendable and maybe even Scandella. Will Jbot opt for more of a sure thing for the 3rd pair instead next year if Scandy is traded.

6. Nelson - Earned a slot with good play in the second half last year but lost most of this season to  injury. RHD on a cheap deal. Has speed and reasonable O skill.  Wonder if he gets lost on the shuffle next year.  He can be sent down without costing us cap space.

7. Hunwick - kind of an older slower Bogo IMHO.  One year left at 2.4 and trade condition ends after the draft.  I don’t see a trade market for his services, but we can recover about 40% of his cap if we waive him. A buyout gives us a cap hit of 800k for the next two years.

8. & 9.  Outside Pilut our two best AHL prospects are JD and Borgen.  Are either ready to win a top 6 role in Buffalo?

That’s what we have.  So what can Jbot do to enhance this defense? Dahlin will be better in year 2.  I think Pilut will as well.  I like how PHs system has activated the D on the offense, but this team needs to much much better in its own zone to become a contender. So how do we get there? 

I think it starts with moving on from both Scandella and Bogo if we can.  We need to re-sign McCabe longterm and replace Scandy and Bogo with mobile D first players to back stop the more free wheeling players like Dahlin and Ristolainen. One positive about Montour is that Carlyle thought his in zone play improved enough to give him significant PK time this year.  

So does Jbot take the work with what he has approach and returns most of the guys we already have or does he really get mad and move on from some of these hold overs?

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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I don't think any major change is necessary at all. On paper, this seems like a very legitimate top 6:

Dahlin-Montour

McCabe-Risto

Scandella-Bogo

With any of Nelson, Hunwick, Pilut, JD, and Borgen filling in for injuries (which we've been lucky with this season but maybe not next).

If I don't see significant improvement in playing defense these next 19 games, I'm going to be leaning heavily back toward the idea that Housley is the problem and not JB. A better coaching staff out there could probably get a lot more out of this group.

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1 hour ago, Marchand'sNose said:

Dahlin-Montour

 

imo this would be a disaster at this stage. Montour is a risk taker and can skate but also gets caught out of position. So is Dahlin. That pairing might generate offense, but they'd also give up a heck of a lot of odd man rushes. 

I'm really not sure how to pair them up best, but at the moment Dahlin-Bogo makes the most sense to me. 

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3 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

One subtle acquisition this year was Jack Dougherty who we acquired from Nashville for Nick Baptiste.  JD is a mobile defensively responsible RHD who once he got healthy has become one of the Amerks best defenders.  His +19 is reflective of his ability to keep opponents at bay.  A skill we sorely lack.  

I bring this up because I think the biggest issue with the Sabres is the defense.  Outside McCabe we simply don’t play it. While we have 8 D signed for next year. McCabe is an RFA. Of the signed D all except Risto and Dahlin are on one year deals.  This gives Jbot great flexibility to change things. 

Right now I think only 2 D are certain to be here next season; Dahlin and Montour.  After that there are serious questions to be answered.

1. Ristolainen - big, physical, skates well and consistent offense threat.  However he hasn’t seem to have improved in our zone. Still young and on a reasonable contract he might also be the chip we need to get the 2nd line center we desperately need.  Add that Montour and Dahlin can take on the offense and Kids like JD and Borgen might force themselves into the lineup, I think there is a reasonable chance he gets traded.

2.  McCabe -  He is the ultimate Swiss Army knife defender. Mobile with size. Can add offense, be physical, pass well and defend. Personally I think it unlikely we don’t re-sign him. The question is how much and for what term. The trading of Guhle and Baloo make re-signing him a priority.  Still could someone make Jbot an offer he can’t refuse like TB for JT Miller?

3. Scandella -  one year left on his deal.  He has all the tools, except top end speed but hasn’t shown them this year like last.  Injuries may be a factor. Likely has some value in the trade market and I can see Jbot moving him to save cap to use on upgrades upfront.

4.  Bogo - the RHD version of Scandella but maybe more physical.  5 mill salary may make him hard to trade but if we eat some money someone will take him.  I like to see Risto stay and him to go in favor of one the kids.

5. Pilut - smallish rookie dominated in the A and had some good moments in Buffalo.  Needs more strength on the puck if he is going to make it in the NHL.  I do think he made Guhle expendable and maybe even Scandella. Will Jbot opt for more of a sure thing for the 3rd pair instead next year if Scandy is traded.

6. Nelson - Earned a slot with good play in the second half last year but lost most of this season to  injury. RHD on a cheap deal. Has speed and reasonable O skill.  Wonder if he gets lost on the shuffle next year.  He can be sent down without costing us cap space.

7. Hunwick - kind of an older slower Bogo IMHO.  One year left at 2.4 and trade condition ends after the draft.  I don’t see a trade market for his services, but we can recover about 40% of his cap if we waive him. A buyout gives us a cap hit of 800k for the next two years.

8. & 9.  Outside Pilut our two best AHL prospects are JD and Borgen.  Are either ready to win a top 6 role in Buffalo?

That’s what we have.  So what can Jbot do to enhance this defense? Dahlin will be better in year 2.  I think Pilut will as well.  I like how PHs system has activated the D on the offense, but this team needs to much much better in its own zone to become a contender. So how do we get there? 

I think it starts with moving on from both Scandella and Bogo if we can.  We need to re-sign McCabe longterm and replace Scandy and Bogo with mobile D first players to back stop the more free wheeling players like Dahlin and Ristolainen. One positive about Montour is that Carlyle thought his in zone play improved enough to give him significant PK time this year.  

So does Jbot take the work with what he has approach and returns most of the guys we already have or does he really get mad and move on from some of these hold overs?

I would still like to get Pesce from 'Canes if possible or similar.

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5 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

imo this would be a disaster at this stage. Montour is a risk taker and can skate but also gets caught out of position. So is Dahlin. That pairing might generate offense, but they'd also give up a heck of a lot of odd man rushes. 

I'm really not sure how to pair them up best, but at the moment Dahlin-Bogo makes the most sense to me. 

Agree with the Dahlin/BOGO pairing for as long as it can last.   This year we have finally seen more of maybe what GMTM thought BOGO could bring...but looking at 2019-2020 I wonder if he can stay healthy and whether his contract status makes him trade bait at next year's deadline. 

Given what we have on paper, I'd prefer to see Montour with McCabe.  This leaves Risto + ????  I've been pretty critical of Scandella this year, but I'd like to think maybe he is just jinxed this year and can maybe get back to form.  If he plays more with a stay at home mentality, then maybe this can work with Risto.....but maybe wishful thinking.  He too may be gone at the deadline.

Injuries of course will cause all kinds of ripples and reconfigured pairings.

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The biggest issue with this team is the middle six forwards. The D isn't perfect but it's young and improving. The forwards need a transplant. Okposo, Sobotka, Pominville, Thompson, Mittlestadt have been a disaster. The kids will get better but they still need to move out the 3 former and make significant improvement on each. 

I can't believe Casey and Tage spent this entire season floundering and not one person in the org did anything about it. Send those MFs down.  ***** ain't hard. 

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1 hour ago, inkman said:

The biggest issue with this team is the middle six forwards. The D isn't perfect but it's young and improving. The forwards need a transplant. Okposo, Sobotka, Pominville, Thompson, Mittlestadt have been a disaster. The kids will get better but they still need to move out the 3 former and make significant improvement on each. 

I can't believe Casey and Tage spent this entire season floundering and not one person in the org did anything about it. Send those MFs down.  ***** ain't hard. 

The middle six (and off topic) is really just a 2nd line center from slotting players correctly and becoming more effective. Sobotka can become the    13th forward and Ko, if he plays, the 4th line RW. Pommers is done here.  Olofsson looks ready to add some scoring to the middle six.  

The defense since the streak ended has collapsed so many times that I have lost faith in many of these guys ability to execute the system. Bogo and Scandy will be 29 next year, Nelson 27, McCabe 26 and Hunwick 34.  Those are finished products. 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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I don't think Ristolainen will be on the team in October. 

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Won't be major changes this summer. Dahlin and Montour will be back in the top four. Nelson and Pilut will be part of the depth and Borgen might push.

And at least three of McCabe, Bogosian, Scandella and Ristolainen will remain as well. One will likely be moved as we chase a forward.

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13 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

I don't think Ristolainen will be on the team in October. 

I’m beginning to think that as well.  

I was looking at the possible pairings and I firmly believe we need some other D first players to support the guys like Montour and Dahlin besides McCabe.  Risto and Pilut don’t play that game.  Scandy and Bogo should play that game but for some reason can’t.  So if Jbot wants Dahlin anchoring pair 1, Montour pair 2 and maybe Pilut pair 3, that means Risto, sadly, if the odd man out and our best chip to get a 2nd line center in trade.

I really want to keep Risto.  He is our only true intimidator physically.  

I’d like to see the following 

Dahlin (new guy)

McCabe Risto

(new guy) Montour

and roll these 3 pairings with relatively equal time.  Now we just need to dump Scandy and Bogo and find to McCabe types to replace them.  I wonder if Fla would trade us back Pysyk to be Montour’s partner?

1 minute ago, dudacek said:

Won't be major changes this summer. Dahlin and Montour will be back in the top four. Nelson and Pilut will be part of the depth and Borgen might push.

And at least three of McCabe, Bogosian, Scandella and Ristolainen will remain as well. One will likely be moved as we chase a forward.

That would be a disappointment for me if that is the only real change.  

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2 hours ago, inkman said:

The biggest issue with this team is the middle six forwards. The D isn't perfect but it's young and improving. The forwards need a transplant. Okposo, Sobotka, Pominville, Thompson, Mittlestadt have been a disaster. The kids will get better but they still need to move out the 3 former and make significant improvement on each. 

I can't believe Casey and Tage spent this entire season floundering and not one person in the org did anything about it. Send those MFs down.  ***** ain't hard. 

I agree that Mittlestadt and Thompson have been a disaster. They need time in the AHL to improve their game. But Pominville is a great player to have around. I'm sure he knows if a team signs him it will be for much less than he's making, but this team needs a couple of aging veterans to guide this team. I know most Sabres fans are against picking up anybody over 30 because they are slow, but they bring the intangibles that helps to develop a team. I'm not against signing Pominville for 2 years at $2.5mil/year. And then maybe picking up another mid 30's veteran to anchor the 4th line. 

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Only way I even consider signing Pommer is if Sheary, Okposo and Sobotka are gone.

How many veteran limited role players or “he’s OK if he’s with a good centre” types do we need?

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16 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Only way I even consider signing Pommer is if Sheary, Okposo and Sobotka are gone.

How many veteran limited role players or “he’s OK if he’s with a good centre” types do we need?

It's interesting that people are mad Mitts was not better (I think he was almost exactly what I expected) and yet they discount the fact he had completely useless wingers on his line most of the year. Pommers, Sheary, Sobotka, and Okposo are not offensive drivers. Okposo looked like one for the first time in a long time in the last game but still, Mitts being asked to drive a line was unreasonable. 

Casey is going to be about 8 points shy of where I thought he should be this season but considering he only has 10 assists because his linemates couldn't bury a body in the Ocean, I will cut him some slack there. 

Edited by LGR4GM
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1 minute ago, LGR4GM said:

It's interesting that people are mad Mitts was not better, Mitts being asked to drive a line was unreasonable. 

Agreed. He worked well with Reinhart imo. Slot Rodrigues in there and that should be a capable line.

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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I’m beginning to think that as well.  

I was looking at the possible pairings and I firmly believe we need some other D first players to support the guys like Montour and Dahlin besides McCabe.  Risto and Pilut don’t play that game.  Scandy and Bogo should play that game but for some reason can’t.  So if Jbot wants Dahlin anchoring pair 1, Montour pair 2 and maybe Pilut pair 3, that means Risto, sadly, if the odd man out and our best chip to get a 2nd line center in trade.

I really want to keep Risto.  He is our only true intimidator physically.  

I’d like to see the following 

Dahlin (new guy)

McCabe Risto

(new guy) Montour

and roll these 3 pairings with relatively equal time.  Now we just need to dump Scandy and Bogo and find to McCabe types to replace them.  I wonder if Fla would trade us back Pysyk to be Montour’s partner?

That would be a disappointment for me if that is the only real change.  

Hmm... are you talking contracts? Because I see Bogo and Scandella as McCabe types.

Scandella has had a down season, but over his career he generally gives you what McCabe has this year. Bogosian started February with a couple rough games, but overall he's been an asset this year. They are also three of our most physical players and key members of one of the league's best penalty killing units. I expect them to cycle out as Borgen/Pilut/Samuelsson mature but I don't feel the need to rush that process.

I'm not that worried about the state of the D corps. With Montour adding the attack element Housley wants, Dahlin taking a step should deliver what we need most.

Edited by dudacek

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14 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Hmm... are you talking contracts? Because I see Bogo and Scandella as McCabe types.

Scandella has had a down season, but over his career he generally gives you what McCabe has this year. Bogosian started February with a couple rough games, but overall he's been an asset this year. They are also three of our most physical players and key members of one of the league's best penalty killing units. I expect them to cycle out as Borgen/Pilut/Samuelsson mature but I don't feel the need to rush that process.

I'm not that worried about the state of the D corps. With Montour adding the attack element Housley wants, Dahlin taking a step should deliver what we need most.

 I guess you could call them McCabe types, but neither plays defense well enough or skates well enough to fill the role McCabe does on this team. 

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1 minute ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

neither plays defense well enough or skates well enough to fill the role McCabe does on this team. 

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Scandella's tough season notwithstanding, I'm not seeing a significant difference in either of these areas.

 

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

It's interesting that people are mad Mitts was not better (I think he was almost exactly what I expected) and yet they discount the fact he had completely useless wingers on his line most of the year. Pommers, Sheary, Sobotka, and Okposo are not offensive drivers. Okposo looked like one for the first time in a long time in the last game but still, Mitts being asked to drive a line was unreasonable. 

Casey is going to be about 8 points shy of where I thought he should be this season but considering he only has 10 assists because his linemates couldn't bury a body in the Ocean, I will cut him some slack there. 

And that's on the coach and GM.  WHY DIDNT THEY DO ANYTHING? 

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8 minutes ago, inkman said:

And that's on the coach and GM.  WHY DIDNT THEY DO ANYTHING? 

Such as send him to Rochester? 

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I don't think there will be any changes to the D this offseason, other than switching out of the 8/9.  D was addressed at the trade deadline and improved.

I believe the focus will be on forwards at the draft and free agency and trades.

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31 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

Such as send him to Rochester? 

Or put him on Jack's wing. Or trade for a stud winger to plop along side of him if you didn't want to break up 9 & 53.  

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4 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

I don't think Ristolainen will be on the team in October. 

Nor do I. Too much noise and this team NEEDS a couple bold/big moves. He’s the obvious one.

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7 minutes ago, Hoss said:

Nor do I. Too much noise and this team NEEDS a couple bold/big moves. He’s the obvious one.

Perhaps, but I also cringe at the thought of how soft this team will be without Risto.  No, I am not saying he's a fighter, but he is one of the few players who can dish out some hits and is strong enough to stand up to other players.  If this happens, I hope there is something else in return that brings some new toughness to the team.

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1 minute ago, Carmel Corn said:

Perhaps, but I also cringe at the thought of how soft this team will be without Risto.  No, I am not saying he's a fighter, but he is one of the few players who can dish out some hits and is strong enough to stand up to other players.  If this happens, I hope there is something else in return that brings some new toughness to the team.

I cringe at worrying about the softness of a team in today’s NHL. Also, we will have opportunities to add players.

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30 minutes ago, Hoss said:

Nor do I. Too much noise and this team NEEDS a couple bold/big moves. He’s the obvious one.

What's interesting is that it feels like this team has made more big moves than most.

Skinner, O'Reilly, Dahlin, Kane, Okposo, Eichel, O'Reilly, Kane — that's a lot of big-name moves in just four years.

I wonder who has done more.

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