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GASabresIUFAN

Goaltending should be the first fix, but won’t be.

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest issue with our team is the goaltending.  Ullmark is not a 55 game starter and Hutton when hot is great, but otherwise is a disaster.  I don’t know if the new coach is making a difference, but if he is it doesn’t appear much. Ullmark is better, but Hutton is the same.  

The question is who is available to improve the goaltending while bridging the gap until UPL is ready (hopefully) in a few years?  Also how do we acquire said player and what does he cost?

The problem to upgrading are huge.  1.  Who is even available?  Corey Crawford (34) is a UFA after the season.  He has a NTC but could he wave it to move on from Chi? Holtby is a UFA and only 30.  Anyone else? 2. We lack cap space to take on a big contract or really any contract for that matter without moving out a similar deal this season.  3. Will Jbot even try to deal for goaltending given the issues with the depth at forward and overall mediocre team?

4.  Do we retain either current player?  How Jbot answers this question could dictate how he answers the previous questions.  Ullmark is a n RFA after this season, while Hutton has one year left at 2.75.  Are one or both tradeable?  Ullmark certainly is but why trade him when he seems to continue to improve?  Hutton isn’t tradeable which means he returns as our backup next season or as mentor to UPL in Rochester and we eat 1.65 cap hit next year. 

My solution unfortunately is to wait until the off-season to correct the problem.  This isn’t a playoff team and because of the cap issues correcting the problem now will cost assets I don’t want to spend.  Instead, I’m signing Crawford or Greiss for two years and re-signing Ullmark for two years this off-season when we have cap space.  I’m then demoting Hutton to Rochester if no one claims him when he is waived.  

i’m also hiring a new D coach to add more structure to our D.  While RK might me a great motivator, his lack of time in the NHL and exposure to the current game has hurt the Sabres.  He needs to find a coach who can work in his system but give the D better positioning.  We have had Smith the last two seasons under different HCs but the D’s seem just as lost. Regardless of how we address the goaltending we must limit the shots against.  I look at how Trotz turned around the Islanders and know we need a similar transformation here.

 

 

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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Hockey 101 says you build from you net out. We haven’t seen anything close to resembling that. At this point there’s no reason to waste assets for a goalie, we should be giving Ullie 65% of the starts and see what happens. 

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Hutton would not have played another game after his unprofessional behavior a few games ago. But I'm a nut job.

16 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

My solution unfortunately is to wait until the off-season to correct the problem.  This isn’t a playoff team and because of the cap issues correcting the problem now will cost assets I don’t want to spend.  Instead, I’m signing Crawford or Greiss for two years and re-signing Ullmark for two years this off-season when we have cap space.  I’m then demoting Hutton to Rochester if no one claims him when he is waived.

Not to pick on you, GA, but this notion, year after year, is the problem with the Buffalo Sabres. The argument is circular. Why aren't we a playoff team? Oh, that's why? Let's not fix that right now — we're not a playoff team. Meanwhile, months become years, and years become decades. Newborns when that idea originated are in kindergarten.

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28 minutes ago, PASabreFan said:

Hutton would not have played another game after his unprofessional behavior a few games ago. But I'm a nut job.

Not to pick on you, GA, but this notion, year after year, is the problem with the Buffalo Sabres. The argument is circular. Why aren't we a playoff team? Oh, that's why? Let's not fix that right now — we're not a playoff team. Meanwhile, months become years, and years become decades. Newborns when that idea originated are in kindergarten.

What did I miss?

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1 minute ago, SwampD said:

What did I miss?

Inattention and a disinterested skate back to the bench when he was pulled for an extra attacker a couple games back.

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I would want JB to think this way in order of most important...

1. 2nd line center 

2. Gritty top 6 winger 

3. Gritty bottom 6 guy

 

try to move two of Scandella, Risto, Bogo. Then try to move two of ERod, Vesey, Miller.

 

IMO, Goaltending will not be changed at all this season. Build around that duo. 

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Just now, Zamboni said:

I would want JB to think this way in order of most important...

1. 2nd line center 

2. Gritty top 6 winger 

3. Gritty bottom 6 guy

 

try to move two of Scandella, Risto, Bogo. Then try to move two of ERod, Vesey, Miller.

 

IMO, Goaltending will not be changed at all this season. Build around that duo. 

So your idea is to just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?

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5 minutes ago, apuszczalowski said:

So your idea is to just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?

Is this serious? Read again if you want to debate my post. Geesh...

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20 minutes ago, apuszczalowski said:

So your idea is to just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?

Zamboni is proposing trading defensive depth for improved forwards.  Is that a non productive idea that has no hope of helping the team?

Edited by Curt

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

Hutton would not have played another game after his unprofessional behavior a few games ago. But I'm a nut job.

Not to pick on you, GA, but this notion, year after year, is the problem with the Buffalo Sabres. The argument is circular. Why aren't we a playoff team? Oh, that's why? Let's not fix that right now — we're not a playoff team. Meanwhile, months become years, and years become decades. Newborns when that idea originated are in kindergarten.

I'd love to fix the goaltending issues right now.  I'd love to send Hutton packing, I'd love to get a top 6 center and RW.  I'd love for us to be a playoff team right now and compete for a Cup this season.  Show me how.  I'm trying to be realistic.  I think we have the assets to possibly solve the center or RW issue this season.  Beyond that we don't have the cap space or assets to fix the forwards and goaltending in season.  It's not possible given the cap constraints caused by legacy contracts like Okposo's and Bogo's gumming up the works. 

We only have $48 mill in contracts for next season for 12 players (Eichel, Dahlin, Skinner, KO, MoJo, Asplund, Risto, Miller, McCabe, Joker, and Hutton).  Add Cozens for 13. Ullmark, Mitts, Reinhart,  Montour and VO are the key RFAs.  We have plenty of flexibility this off-season to fix this roster.  

I hate the kicking of the can down the road, but sometimes it has to be done.  As to the goaltending, I think this is one of those times.  @#freejame is correct that Ullmark should get 65% of the remaining starts.    

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I'd love to fix the goaltending issues right now.  I'd love to send Hutton packing, I'd love to get a top 6 center and RW.  I'd love for us to be a playoff team right now and compete for a Cup this season.  Show me how.  I'm trying to be realistic.  I think we have the assets to possibly solve the center or RW issue this season.  Beyond that we don't have the cap space or assets to fix the forwards and goaltending in season.  It's not possible given the cap constraints caused by legacy contracts like Okposo's and Bogo's gumming up the works. 

We only have $48 mill in contracts for next season for 12 players (Eichel, Dahlin, Skinner, KO, MoJo, Asplund, Risto, Miller, McCabe, Joker, and Hutton).  Add Cozens for 13. Ullmark, Mitts, Reinhart,  Montour and VO are the key RFAs.  We have plenty of flexibility this off-season to fix this roster.  

I hate the kicking of the can down the road, but sometimes it has to be done.  As to the goaltending, I think this is one of those times.  @#freejame is correct that Ullmark should get 65% of the remaining starts.    

Well that puts a little meat on the bones in terms of why Botterill might be waiting until next season. But to parrot @Doohickie they're in a playoff spot now, albeit a precarious one. You're thinking in terms of making this team a solid playoff team. You would agree there's a move or two now to make this team a solid playoff bubble team?

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

Well that puts a little meat on the bones in terms of why Botterill might be waiting until next season. But to parrot @Doohickie they're in a playoff spot now, albeit a precarious one. You're thinking in terms of making this team a solid playoff team. You would agree there's a move or two now to make this team a solid playoff bubble team?

Of course Jbot should makes moves to enhance this team any time they become available.  Remember I'm the guy who starts the "Jbot Do Something Already" threads.  I'd like to see a move to enhance the forwards asap.  We shouldn't wait until the deadline.  The reason I'm focused on the forwards over the goaltending is because this is where I think there will be available help sooner then later.  I think the deadline is the earliest a goaltender would be available at that will be to late.  That doesn't change the fact that IMHO goaltending is our biggest hole.  The reason I reached that conclusion is that guys like Thompson, Cozens and Asplund will likely be ready for greater roles on the Sabres next season at forward and UPL is 2-4 years away.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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14 hours ago, Zamboni said:

I would want JB to think this way in order of most important...

1. 2nd line center 

2. Gritty top 6 winger 

3. Gritty bottom 6 guy

 

try to move two of Scandella, Risto, Bogo. Then try to move two of ERod, Vesey, Miller.

 

IMO, Goaltending will not be changed at all this season. Build around that duo. 

Analytically speaking, by far the most impactful thing Botterill could do this season would be to immediately improve goaltending by bringing in a better goalie and starting him most nights. 

I'm not saying he is going to do that,  that he is even thinking in these terms, or that the right guy is out there who could be had, however.

 

 

 

 

 

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I dunno man...the Sabres are middle of the pack in both GAA and SvPct ranking 18th and 17th respectively in the league.  

I think they need to play better in front of the goalies a little bit more and the definitely need to play a lot better on the penalty kills. They are just dreadful penalty killing and give up way too many easy chances for the other team.  Frustratingly, they will do a great job for half or 2/3 of a penalty kill and then just either have a mental breakdown or not pick up a guy at some point and it ends up in the back of the net.  

The fact they have given up more shorthanded goals than scored power play goals in the past month is a joke as well.

Edited by matter2003

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While having a better goalie than Hutton to pair with Ullmark would be beneficial, as even the OP states (making the title of his thread hopefully contradictory) that change isn't likely to happen until this off-season at the earliest.  Unless Hutton falls even further off pace and they reach the point he gets demoted during this season and either Hammond is able to return to his play when he was known as the Hamburgler or 1 of the other 2 kids is ready to do a Steve Penney imitation (a Dryden imitation is far too improbable) that fix is at least an off-season away and possibly 2.

And while we all want to see the trade of excessive D depth to shore up deficiencies in the top 6, that doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

And canning Smith, which probably should've happened last off-season, will at the earliest happen this off-season.  And wouldn't want to have money on that happening even then.

So if there are not going to be any near term "first fixes" what can be the near term fix?

How about fixing the PP?  They spend FAAAR too many without getting a single shot off.  They have 3 snipers (if Eichel is included) on the top unit and at least 1 other forward that has historically been a good screener / deflector from in front of the net.  There is no reason for this unit to be going entire months netting out negative goals on the PP.

Go back to working the plans Bob Wood used when he was here. There are at least 3 guys who were on that uop unit when he was running it, so pick their brains on it.  If running Wood's plan means bouncing either Olofsson or Skinner off this top unit to have Johansson fill the O'Reilly role from back in the day, so be it.  And for the love of all that's holy, remember that 0 shots will result in, at best, coming out of the PP with the exact same score differential they entered the PP with.

This team holds its own at ES.  Fix the special teams, which SHOULD be doable with the personnel they have - at least to the point of adequate for the PK and good for the PP, and they remain a bubble team or possibly even a PP team.

Edited by Taro T
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I don't know what is up with Hutton. he was as solid as it comes at the beginning of the season and now it feels like even I could score on him. 

I don't know if he has an injury or its something in his head, but it needs to be figured out quick because it's a guaranteed loss right now, and could cost him any potential contract going forward. lehner was better than hutton at this point 

Edited by miles

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21 minutes ago, miles said:

I don't know what is up with Hutton. he was as solid as it comes at the beginning of the season and now it feels like even I could score on him. 

I don't know if he has an injury or its something in his head, but it needs to be figured out quick because it's a guaranteed loss right now, and could cost him any potential contract going forward. lehner was better than hutton at this point 

It SEEMS to be in his head.  He got shelled by the Rags, but didn't seem to be as bad as the score indicated.  Then he gave up that horrible goal at the end of the 1st vs Arizona which got them back into the game and followed that up with a shutout minus letting a puck bounce off the back of his leg and into the net for a 1-0 loss.  Ever since then, he's given up 1-2 horrible goals each game.  But he's made difficult saves in that span and his movement seems fine.  He just simply is getting beat by shots he should be able to stop.

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I should have made the title “Goaltending Should Be the First fix, but won’t be.”

Shoring up the PK will help as will better puck possession in the offensive zone.  Those are definitely things we can do now.  The question is how? Is there anyone on the trade market that will help? 

The strange thing about the PK was that it was good last year at 80.9% Tied for 12th in the NHL with basically the same personnel.  Also the PP was average last year at 19.5% (16th). Under this new staff with theoretically a better roster we are down to 73.4% on the PK (30th) and 17.8% on the PP (20th).  Sadly the goaltender is the most important PK player and neither of ours seems to make the big save need on the PK.  Certainly our D doing a better job clearing the crease and our forwards get the puck down the ice will help and that comes down to coaching and player execution.  31 games into the season is a large enough sample size to know that this is unlikely to change without a roster unjustment.

 

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58 minutes ago, miles said:

I don't know what is up with Hutton. he was as solid as it comes at the beginning of the season and now it feels like even I could score on him. 

I don't know if he has an injury or its something in his head, but it needs to be figured out quick because it's a guaranteed loss right now, and could cost him any potential contract going forward. lehner was better than hutton at this point 

I would waive Hutton. Maybe someone picks him up but with his contract probably not. Hammond can back up until UPL is ready. 

UPL will be on the Sabres next season. Not sure how many starts but I believe he will be NHL ready to pair with Ullmark.

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45 minutes ago, Taro T said:

It SEEMS to be in his head.  He got shelled by the Rags, but didn't seem to be as bad as the score indicated.  Then he gave up that horrible goal at the end of the 1st vs Arizona which got them back into the game and followed that up with a shutout minus letting a puck bounce off the back of his leg and into the net for a 1-0 loss.  Ever since then, he's given up 1-2 horrible goals each game.  But he's made difficult saves in that span and his movement seems fine.  He just simply is getting beat by shots he should be able to stop.

 

He is good for one "are you freaking serious??" goal pretty much every game it seems. Against the Islanders when we lost 1-0 that was the difference in the game...they scored a goal that no NHL goalie should allow, but he allows them on an almost every game basis and then stops really tough shots. I don't get him. He is sort of like an enigma.

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Focusing on goaltending ignores the real problem: puck handling in the Sabres own end and the resulting defensive breakdowns. These Sabres are helpless in their own end. They are the easiest team to forecheck into a turnover.  

Edited by PromoTheRobot

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24 minutes ago, Crusader1969 said:

I would waive Hutton. Maybe someone picks him up but with his contract probably not. Hammond can back up until UPL is ready. 

UPL will be on the Sabres next season. Not sure how many starts but I believe he will be NHL ready to pair with Ullmark.

Waive Hutton maybe, but UPL is in the ECHL this season.  Next season he’ll be in Rochester and possibly the season after that as well.

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17 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

Focusing on goaltending ignores the real problem: puck handling in the Sabres own end and the resulting defensive breakdowns. These Sabres are helpless in their open end. They are the easiest team to forecheck into a turnover.  

There is some truth to this, but both goalies let in to many soft goals.  

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38 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Waive Hutton maybe, but UPL is in the ECHL this season.  Next season he’ll be in Rochester and possibly the season after that as well.

I thought JB said that UPL just needed a few starts in Cincinnati before going to Rochester? Thought it was sometime around Christmas

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1 hour ago, PromoTheRobot said:

Focusing on goaltending ignores the real problem: puck handling in the Sabres own end and the resulting defensive breakdowns. These Sabres are helpless in their open end. They are the easiest team to forecheck into a turnover.  

Not at all what I saw in Vancouver on Saturday, when they were clearly better than their opponent on that portion of the game.

And it’s not what I’ve seen for most of this year.

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