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Dead Team Walking - Are the Sabres Even Fixable?

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7 hours ago, MattPie said:

The Sabres need 1.37 PPG for the rest of 39 games this season to hit 98 (Taro-Pie .600) points. That's 10-game records of 5-1-4 (that's that streak we all excited about), 6-2-2, 7-3, or better. Playing a whole season at that pace would net 112 points. Do the 2020 Sabres have it in them to be among the best teams in a decade? (Answer: really unlikely)

I suppose, but Philly is the last WC right now and is pacing for 95 points. They'd have to play at a 101 point pace over their next 39 to reach that 98 point mark you mentioned. We might be able to sneak in at 96 or 95. 

We'd have to earn 50 points in last 39 to get to 95, or, about a 105 point 82 game pace. Still really daunting, but it's not a one-of-the-best-teams-of-the-decade pace. We're gonna need about 13 points every 10, so, 6-3-1 (one more outright loss than the 6-2-2 you outlined, I guess).

Edited by Thorny

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I think this team can do 6-2-2 over the next 40 (39 but whose counting).

Two factors in our favor.  First without Skinner and VO, the team is going to have to adopt a more defensive counter punch style.  I think we have seen a little of that in recent games.  Second, when Skinner and VO return it will be like getting two big time deadline acquisitions and give the team a boost.  However, for this to work, Jbot is going to have to being in a legit center behind Jack.  The recent Athletic article pointed out that MoJo is in the bottom 3rd of 2nd line NHL centers.  We need better.  I like Mojo and maybe he'll have a great second half, but he can have that great 2nd half as the 2nd line RW when we get a Bonino or Henrique. 

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14 hours ago, Doohickie said:

That's just giving up.

Additional changes are necessary, sure, but I think this forum is enamored with what VGK did their first season.  You might think starting with a clean sheet would be better, but that's bogus.  We have several good pieces and a lot of cap space next year.  That's realistically as close to a clean sheet as we're ever going to get.

It's not "giving up" but rather a recognition of the possibility that the internal dynamics of the organization are severely flawed. the culture if you prefer, cannot be fixed with a player here or a player there. I'm not entirely sure that's the case, but after a decade of futility the question/suggestion is a legitimate one. 

Really not sure how many 'good pieces" we have. Would you care to list them? I think your list will be much longer than mine. 

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7 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I think this team can do 6-2-2 over the next 40 (39 but whose counting).

Two factors in our favor.  First without Skinner and VO, the team is going to have to adopt a more defensive counter punch style.  I think we have seen a little of that in recent games.  Second, when Skinner and VO return it will be like getting two big time deadline acquisitions and give the team a boost.  However, for this to work, Jbot is going to have to being in a legit center behind Jack.  The recent Athletic article pointed out that MoJo is in the bottom 3rd of 2nd line NHL centers.  We need better.  I like Mojo and maybe he'll have a great second half, but he can have that great 2nd half as the 2nd line RW when we get a Bonino or Henrique. 

how is it a boost to get those 2 back when the team wasn't playing well when they were in the lineup? It will definitely help based on their  talent but I don't see a playoff push because of them

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1 hour ago, nucci said:

how is it a boost to get those 2 back when the team wasn't playing well when they were in the lineup? It will definitely help based on their  talent but I don't see a playoff push because of them

Fair question.  It’s predicated on Jbot getting a 2c sooner then later and the team adopting a more defensive style of play and becoming a counter puncher. 

Our strength is Jack and a deep mobile defense group.  The goal is for them to tighten up in our zone and quickly get the puck out.  They seem to have adopted something close to this style with back to back 3-2 wins.

The next 8 games are winnable against teams we should be able to compete with.  Dallas and Stl on the road are the hardest games.  Going 6-2 in the next 8 will be a great help.

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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1 hour ago, nucci said:

how is it a boost to get those 2 back when the team wasn't playing well when they were in the lineup? It will definitely help based on their  talent but I don't see a playoff push because of them

It's always a boost to get good players back.

Really believe a large part of their slump has been Johansson playing injured.  He looked very good (even better than advertised) the 1st 10 or so games, but then he slumped (IMHO he was battling an undisclosed injury but maybe he's just extremely streaky) and the team played poorly.  Though he still wasn't scoring until recently the team did get a bit of a boost since he came back.  They've also been playing much better since Christmas (even though they lost their 1st 3 against 2 of the 3 best teams in the East) which corresponds to Johansson finally looking like he did early in the year.

The combination of having had the tougher portion of the year and seeming to play the way Krueger wants/ expects them to at 5v5 should have them playing at a higher level down the back stretch of the season.  (Keeping Hutton away from the net until he gets his confidence back hasn't hurt either.)  Will that be enough to get them into the playoffs? Probably not.  But fully expect them to finish the season playing at the 96 pt through 80 games pace that they need over the course of a season to make the playoffs.

If MoJo can stay healthy &/or they finally bring in actual 2nd line help, maybe they can sneak in.

Tonight's game will be a good test.  They don't match up well against the Blues.  But if they can give them a good battle and steal a point it would be a very good sign that they're growing into what Krueger is trying to do.

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I have edited the thread Title as I no longer believe this team is fixable this season.  I knew tonight's game would be tough and they competed for a period.  However, we have zero scoring outside of Jack, we can't kill a penalty and Ullmark is simply not good enough.  

I'm not sure Jbot can really fix the problems. 

PS This is not to say that Jbot should be fired.  I still believe he inherited a mess of biblical proportion and I don't think anyone out there can fix this roster right now.  

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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14 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I have edited the thread Title as I no longer believe this team is fixable this season.  I knew tonight's game would be tough and they competed for a period.  However, we have zero scoring outside of Jack, we can't kill a penalty and Ullmark is simply not good enough.  

I'm not sure Jbot can really fix the problems. 

PS This is not to say that Jbot should be fired.  I still believe he inherited a mess of biblical proportion and I don't think anyone out there can fix this roster right now.  

Losing Skinner and Oloffson really hurt... Adding Frolik will help longer term, but this team needs so much on offense that I agree it is a long way off... though I don't think last night was indicative of how they will play all the rest of the season... more likely up and down back and forth.  Team needs scorers and outside of Jack they just don't have any right now. Next year Cozens will be here... hopefully one or both of Mitts and TT can be added if they can play with some appropriate moxie and maybe a free agent.  If the Sabres win the lottery or the 2nd pick they may have another player that could be used... big if,  Yes I have to agree they are a long ways off... sigh.

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On 12/26/2019 at 1:12 AM, GASabresIUFAN said:

..... With the goal of making the team a legit playoff team this season.

I think this roster is short a legit 2nd line center and a backup goalie.

The second problem is easily fixed.  I'd recall Hammond and send down Hutton.  No one is claiming Hutton and I think he'd even agree to the demotion to get his game back.

The first problem is more critical and harder to fix, however if Jbot can find the right player, then this lineup all falls into place.

VO Jack Reinhart (or MoJo)

Skinner New Guy Mojo (Reinhart

Girgensons Larsson Okposo

Sheary Erod Vesey

But who can we get to be the "new guy" and at what cost? The two guys I'd love to try to get are Kopitar and Getzlaf.  Both have NMC so it's unlikely they'd want to come, but they'd be the perfect additions.  Cups winners and leaders, both still producing and playing with a winger like Skinner and MVP Jack might be a solid selling point.  

Obviously moving either guy would rip the heart out of the fans of either franchise, but rebuilds are necessary in both places.  Kopitar is 32 and has 4 years left after this at $10 mill per season.  That would lower LA's asking price, and it would be tough nut for us to take with Dahlin, VO and Samson needing to be re-signed this year of next but it just maybe worth it.  Getzlaf is better $ wise with only 1 year left after this season @8.25. 

Jbot might as well swing for the fences.  One never knows.  

Hammond has started sucking in the AHL tho after a strong start. Hard to think if he isn't stopping pucks well in the AHL that he will be doing it better at the NHL level.

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I think the fixes need to start on special teams...you cannot have amongst the worst special teams in all 4 categories, the categories being:

1) PP

2) PK

3) Shorthanded goals for

4) Shorthanded goals against

The Sabres are among the worst teams in the league at all of these...something needs to give, they cannot kill themselves game in and game out by poor special temas and think they are going to win.  Not sure what they need to do to fix it but whatever they are doing clearly is not working. For as bad as the team was under Housley last year, they were actually pretty decent at penalty killing ranking 12th. What changed that has made this team so much worse?

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Special Teams start with puck possession and puck possession starts with winning face offs and we are at the bottom of the league there to.  

Getting a 2c who can win a draw would help both special teams.  I’ve mentioned Henrique and Bonino before and truth be told this should have been addressed weeks and weeks ago and months  and months ago like from the day Berglund went AWOL. 

There are no excuses for allowing this to continue for a over a year.  

 

 

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We have four top six players (Eichel, Samson, Skinner, Olofsson), one third liner (MoJo), and a bunch of overpaid fourth liners. We need at least four new forwards (Casey and Thompson might be able to play the third line but I don’t believe so). We won’t get find two top six players this offseason. Maybe we can get two middle six guys, but that’s just going to wind up having another ***** second line waiting for someone to take their spot. This team is monumentally ***** and that isn’t even going into our supposed strength of defense. 

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8 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Special Teams start with puck possession and puck possession starts with winning face offs and we are at the bottom of the league there to.  

Getting a 2c who can win a draw would help both special teams.  I’ve mentioned Henrique and Bonino before and truth be told this should have been addressed weeks and weeks ago and months  and months ago like from the day Berglund went AWOL. 

There are no excuses for allowing this to continue for a over a year.  

 

 

There is an excuse. I don't think anybody wants our players. Certainly not any of the ones you or I would want to give up. So unless you trade away all your future draft picks and prospects there is nothing we can get back except (low) draft picks for what we have to offer. Reinhart and maybe Risto are the only pieces that might get you a return, but even that return I think is lower than what you'd expect. 

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I've mentioned Henrique and Bonino.  I wonder what it would cost to get them.

Henrique is 29 with 4 years left after this season @ 5.825.  He has 14g 10a in 44g and is 56.1% in the faceoff circle; his 2nd straight year over 52%.

Bonino is 31 with 1 year left after this season @ 4.1. He has 14g 11a for 25 pts in 43 gms.  He also has a 54.6% faceoff %; his 3rd straight year well over 51%.

I'm thinking a player like Sheary or Vesey, with a prospect and a 2nd rd pick for either player.  Maybe Henrique because of the contract costs less.

 

One other off the wall idea.  What about Kyle Turris for Kyle Okposo. 

Turris is 30 with 4 years left @ 6.0 per season.  Turris is a career 50.8% in the faceoff circle (50% this year) and has 5g 12a in 36 games.

Okposo is 31 with 3 years left at 6.0 per season.  KO has 4g 4a in 33 games.  

Why this deal could happen?  Nashville gets rid of one bad contract for another but with one year less term.  We take on an extra year, but Turris would be a reasonable fit as a 3rd/4th line center who can win a faceoff and is younger and more productive then KO.  Also KO's deal is somewhat front loaded and his actual $ decreases 6, 4, 4 the next 3 years, while Turris is an actual $6 mill each year.

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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1 hour ago, PerreaultForever said:

There is an excuse. I don't think anybody wants our players. Certainly not any of the ones you or I would want to give up. So unless you trade away all your future draft picks and prospects there is nothing we can get back except (low) draft picks for what we have to offer. Reinhart and maybe Risto are the only pieces that might get you a return, but even that return I think is lower than what you'd expect. 

Getting a decent player like Henrique who is under-performing his contract with 4 years left on a team trying to rebuild usually comes pretty cheaply as a noted below.  I formed my offers by looking at deals for similar players in recent deadlines.

So here is a deal.  Sheary/Vesey and Larsson/Girgensons/Erod (Nashville gets to choose one from each group), KO, Borgen & a 2nd for Turris and Bonino.

We get a 2nd and 3rd line center who can wins draws and add offense.  We taken on 10.1 mill in cap this year and next with Turris 3 more years at 6 mill.  Nash gets a cheaper version of Turris in Larsson, a servicable wingers in KO plus Vesey or Sheary.  They taken on about 9.5 in cap this season, but only 6 mill for KO next year, unless they choose to re-sign FAs Sheary or Vesey or Larsson.  They also have Craig Smith and Granlund who can play center.  

This deal is really a cap dump for Nashville and allows them to get younger and our from under two veteran contracts.  

Here is what the lineup might look like.  (I'm figuring they take Larsson and Vesey and then we demote (or trade) Erod to Rochester for extra cap space).

Olofsson Jack Reinhart

Skinner Bonino MoJo

Frolik Turris Sheary

Girgensons Asplund Lazar

Next season Frolik, Girgensons, Sheary all go bye-bye (cap hit 8.9 mill) to be replaced with younger better talent in Thompson, Mitts and Cozens (cap hit 2.775)

Olofsson Jack Reinhart

Skinner Bonino MoJo

Asplund Cozens Mitts

Lazar Turris Thompson

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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On 1/9/2020 at 9:59 AM, Taro T said:

It's always a boost to get good players back.

Really believe a large part of their slump has been Johansson playing injured.  He looked very good (even better than advertised) the 1st 10 or so games, but then he slumped (IMHO he was battling an undisclosed injury but maybe he's just extremely streaky) and the team played poorly.  Though he still wasn't scoring until recently the team did get a bit of a boost since he came back.  They've also been playing much better since Christmas (even though they lost their 1st 3 against 2 of the 3 best teams in the East) which corresponds to Johansson finally looking like he did early in the year.

The combination of having had the tougher portion of the year and seeming to play the way Krueger wants/ expects them to at 5v5 should have them playing at a higher level down the back stretch of the season.  (Keeping Hutton away from the net until he gets his confidence back hasn't hurt either.)  Will that be enough to get them into the playoffs? Probably not.  But fully expect them to finish the season playing at the 96 pt through 80 games pace that they need over the course of a season to make the playoffs.

If MoJo can stay healthy &/or they finally bring in actual 2nd line help, maybe they can sneak in.

Tonight's game will be a good test.  They don't match up well against the Blues.  But if they can give them a good battle and steal a point it would be a very good sign that they're growing into what Krueger is trying to do.

I generally agree, but Mojo is what he is. The reason he was available, for the price we paid, is because he isn’t capable at this stage of providing true 2C play for more than short stretches at a time. Hoping for sustained play at that level is folly.  

He’s the definition of a stop-gap option, and when he isn’t the only stop gap on the line (Sheary), the team is asking for trouble. And that was true before the Skinner injury. 

It looked from day 1 to be a roster not constructed to survive the rigours of an NHL season, in all honestly. Littered with a multitude of “ifs” that all needed to break our way to have a real shot at the playoffs. So either Botterill couldn’t, or didn’t know how (talent analysis, team building aptitude) to do better, or, the goal entering into the season wasn’t to make the playoffs. 

Edited by Thorny
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Am I the only one that thinks just getting a 2c is not the magical answer for this team? We have a few top end talented players and almost a roster full of third to fourth line players. One reason why trades to improve the team are so difficult. You don't get something for nothing. Frankly who do we really have of value to another team we can afford to trade?

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16 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I have edited the thread Title as I no longer believe this team is fixable this season.  I knew tonight's game would be tough and they competed for a period.  However, we have zero scoring outside of Jack, we can't kill a penalty and Ullmark is simply not good enough.  

I'm not sure Jbot can really fix the problems. 

PS This is not to say that Jbot should be fired.  I still believe he inherited a mess of biblical proportion and I don't think anyone out there can fix this roster right now.  

A cheat code of sorts would be to fix the inexplicable PP, but they seem incapable of doing so. One of the most flabbergasting developments of this season.

As for the statement after the bolded, a statute of limitations is going to need to come into play here. No matter how much Murray’s tenure is being hyperbolically exaggerated, 3 full seasons is more than enough time to field a non-bottom of the league team. Turnarounds should not take that long. 

I’m not saying they needed to make the playoffs this year, but being in the thick of the race all season seemed a more than reasonable level of expectation. I don’t see how the expectation could be any lower, when in reality we are one LESS move from the GM from being exactly there. 

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7 minutes ago, Radar said:

Am I the only one that thinks just getting a 2c is not the magical answer for this team? We have a few top end talented players and almost a roster full of third to fourth line players. One reason why trades to improve the team are so difficult. You don't get something for nothing. Frankly who do we really have of value to another team we can afford to trade?

Consider @Taro T‘s point about how much better we look when Mojo is on his game, playing at or near a 2C level. If we had that bonafide 2C talent all the time, or even someone playing at a level even a little higher than Mojo’s best, I think we look pretty good. Especially considering the likelihood of Mojo more often achieving a high level of play probably increases, if he’s coming at it from a wing position. 

The “who’s available?” argument doesn’t hold a lot of water, to me. There’s always guys, plenty of which we don’t even know are available until after the fact. We could (and should) have added JT Miller this last summer, just to name one. 

Edited by Thorny
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31 minutes ago, Thorny said:

I generally agree, but Mojo is what he is. The reason he was available, for the price we paid, is because he isn’t capable at this stage of providing true 2C play for more than short stretches at a time. Hoping for sustained play at that level is folly.  

He’s the definition of a stop-gap option, and when he isn’t the only stop gap on the line (Sheary), the team is asking for trouble. And that was true before the Skinner injury. 

It looked from day 1 to be a roster not constructed to survive the rigours of an NHL season, in all honestly. Littered with a multitude of “ifs” that all needed to break our way to have a real shot at the playoffs. So either Botterill couldn’t, or didn’t know how (talent analysis, team building aptitude) to do better, or, the goal entering into the season wasn’t to make the playoffs. 

Johansson is nothing more than a stop gap at 2C.  That is 100% correct.  But, maddeningly so, even when just that stop gap is on his game this team is tantalizingly close to being able to play at that 0.600 necessary pace. 

For the love of all that's good and holy, Botterill, make a move to get enough SECOND LINE help (not even asking for top line help) to sneak this team into the playoffs.

The lack of movement on improving the 2nd line continues to be both the most frustrating thing about this season & the thing that keeps the conspiracy theory alive, at least IMHO, that upper management would rather have another top 8 pick in this coming draft than playoff experience for the kids that have none.  And, again IMHO, the playoff experience now will be more beneficial to finding that pkayoff magic necessary to get them over the top than the pick being a legit 2nd liner 4-5 seasons from now.

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