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LGR4GM

Forward depth is bad with no help coming internally

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John Vogl of the athletic posted a good article today about what the Sabres look like going forward under the premise of just looking at guys in our system coming up and filling roles. The bottom line is that without major trades our offensive depth is completely screwed. He took out players that would be UFA's even though we could sign them. That said, there's nothing in the pipeline for the right wing without some late round pick being a winning lottery ticket. The left wing is okay but outside of Skinner and Olofsson we have nothing coming unless you love Pekar. The centers might be okay but Cozens has to hit and Mitts would have to become useful by 2021. My point being we have to fix this now and immediately or what will happen is that in 2 years we will be sitting here bemoaning our forward group and wondering why it hasn't gotten better. It won't get better internally. The help has to come from outside. 

https://theathletic.com/1556505/2020/01/24/trade-secrets-projecting-the-sabres-through-2023-shows-how-much-work-remains/

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- courtesy of John Vogl, https://theathletic.com/1556505/2020/01/24/trade-secrets-projecting-the-sabres-through-2023-shows-how-much-work-remains/

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We can probably get a Johansson level forward in free agency and another by trading some of our depth on D.

But if our forward depth is better two years from now it will largely be because Cozens, Mittelstadt, Asplund and Thompson's development path followed Olofsson's not Girgorenko's.

Personally, I'm not counting on it to happen, but it can happen, and it certainly seems that it was Botterill's plan for it to happen.

 

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I read Vogl’s article and I’m saying BS.  
VO, Reinhart, Eichel and Skinner are or will be locked up.

Mitts, Thompson and Cozens are part of mix long-term.  Lazar and Asplund are also in the mix going forward.  KO is also here for 3 more seasons.  

That’s 10 of 12 slots with just internal candidates.

Now add Ruotsalainen to the mix along with Davidsson, Pekar, Weissbach and other current prospects and we have plenty of bodies with potential.  This doesn’t include any budget FAs, future picks and college FA that Jbot adds to the mix.

Jbot, with the Pilut and Routsalainen signings, has shown he has zero problem with finding overlooked guys with potential to fill holes in his prospect pool.  

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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6 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I read Vogl’s article and I’m saying BS.  
VO, Reinhart, Eichel and Skinner are or will be locked up.

Mitts, Thompson and Cozens are part of mix long-term.  Lazar and Asplund are also in the mix going forward.  KO is also here for 3 more seasons.  

That’s 10 of 12 slots with just internal candidates.

Now add Ruotsalainen to the mix along with Davidsson, Pekar, Weissbach and other current prospects and we have plenty of bodies with potential.  This doesn’t include any budget FAs, future picks and college FA that Jbot adds to the mix.

Jbot, with the Pilut and Routsalainen signings, has shown he has zero problem with finding overlooked guys with potential to fill holes in his prospect pool.  

 

Agreed.  One of the main reasons this is not as big of an issue for the Sabres is because the core pieces of this team are still so young and it is quite obvious the Sabres need to bring in players when you have so many UFAs coming off the books.   

The only concern I have a this point is the hesitation JBotts has shown to make a high number of substantive moves each year.  He's made a handful of big moves that have worked well (Skinner), worked ok (all the Kane trades, Montour), and not worked (ORielly), but he has to make several critical moves between now and the start of next season.  I would like to think he is capable, but he has yet to demonstrate he is.  It's a big risk, and will remain one, until he starts making trades and signing contracts.

With his not so big signings, he's brought in some younger players that are about to hit their prime years (Montour, Vesey, Lazar) and ones that are still a few years away (Joker, Tage).  So far Joker and Lazar have been slam dunks (as far as exceeding expectations), while Montour had been a victim of the numbers game on D. 

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45 minutes ago, dudacek said:

We can probably get a Johansson level forward in free agency and another by trading some of our depth on D.

But if our forward depth is better two years from now it will largely be because Cozens, Mittelstadt, Asplund and Thompson's development path followed Olofsson's not Girgorenko's.

Personally, I'm not counting on it to happen, but it can happen, and it certainly seems that it was Botterill's plan for it to happen.

 

Grigorenko had a development path?

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10 minutes ago, SwampD said:

Grigorenko had a development path?

Yeah. They call it the throw an unready kid right into the fire because you were to stupid to complete the roster correctly.

Jbot put Mitts on the Grigorenko path, but hopefully he diverted the train before it crashed and burned.

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14 minutes ago, SwampD said:

Grigorenko had a development path?

 

1 minute ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Yeah. They call it the throw an unready kid right into the fire because you were to stupid to complete the roster correctly.

Jbot put Mitts on the Grigorenko path, but hopefully he diverted the train before it crashed and burned.

Thompson has been following it too.

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6 minutes ago, dudacek said:

 

Thompson has been following it too.

But Stl started it and Jbot at least took him off the track eventually.

Not to derail this topic, but Jbot is a bit strange as a GM so far.  He is cool and planning, but has thrown kids into the fire unnecessarily.  He seems to make smart moves over the summer, but is so slow to react to in season issues.  

It’s weird.  It seems to me that someone this planning would have a plan B or C when his initial battle plan didn’t work out.  

Edited by GASabresIUFAN

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Coming back to once again if our GM and scouts can draft, which I'm not confident about at all.

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2 minutes ago, WildCard said:

Coming back to once again if our GM and scouts can draft, which I'm not confident about at all.

Based on what?  A 21 year old kid getting sent down to develop more?

What about the solid development being shown by Pekar, Cozens, Weissbach, UPL, Samuelsson, Bryson, and Laaksonen plus FA pick ups Pilut and Routsalainen?

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Just now, GASabresIUFAN said:

Based on what?  A 21 year old kid getting sent down to develop more?

What about the solid development being shown by Pekar, Cozens, Weissbach, UPL, Samuelsson, Bryson, and Laaksonen plus FA pick ups Pilut and Routsalainen?

Honestly based on what Liger, Rakish, and some others have said on the development of other players we passed on to take those guys. The article above says we're pretty screwed unless we have some miracle hits. Out of the guys you listed, maybe Cozens and UPL become impact players? Maybe Samuelsson?

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8 minutes ago, WildCard said:

Honestly based on what Liger, Rakish, and some others have said on the development of other players we passed on to take those guys. The article above says we're pretty screwed unless we have some miracle hits. Out of the guys you listed, maybe Cozens and UPL become impact players? Maybe Samuelsson?

The article is BS.  Our top 6 is pretty much locked up with Cozens developing into the 2c longterm in a year or 2. 
After that bottom six players in all franchises come and go with a mix of vets and kids.  We have the perfect kids for those roles. Guys like Pekar, Thompson, Lazar and Asplund are perfect for those roles. 
 

What Vogl should be saying is that we need more forwards in our system long-term.  With that I agree, but to say we are in dire need of forwards is simply wrong.  What we need is a few competent guys at center to bring the gap until Mitts and Cozens are fully ready for big time roles on the squad.

 

Edited by GASabresIUFAN
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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I read Vogl’s article and I’m saying BS.  
VO, Reinhart, Eichel and Skinner are or will be locked up.

Mitts, Thompson and Cozens are part of mix long-term.  Lazar and Asplund are also in the mix going forward.  KO is also here for 3 more seasons.  

That’s 10 of 12 slots with just internal candidates.

Now add Ruotsalainen to the mix along with Davidsson, Pekar, Weissbach and other current prospects and we have plenty of bodies with potential.  This doesn’t include any budget FAs, future picks and college FA that Jbot adds to the mix.

Jbot, with the Pilut and Routsalainen signings, has shown he has zero problem with finding overlooked guys with potential to fill holes in his prospect pool.  

 

Yeah.  1-2 of Mittelstadt, Cozens, and Thompson will be useful.  Combine that with the "big 4" of Eichel, Skinner, Reinhart, and Olofsson and they are at worst a Johansson level signing from a solid to strong top 6.

Some combination of Asplund, Lazar (expecting he'll be back), Pekar, and Davidsson provide a solid base to the checking line.  Which leaves 1-3 pieces to bring in to create a 3rd scoring (aka 4th) line.  Bringing in 4 forwards from outside the organization over 2 seasons is actually very low turnover and when only 1 of those need to be a 2nd liner is eminently doable.  (And that's assuming that Girgensons and Larsson have been moved on from by then, which while expected isn't a lock, as both will still be in their 20's.)

Been saying they're about 2 years away for a long time now, so expecting they'll be in the mix then can be greeted with an eyeroll easily.  But that O'Reilly trade set them back about that far and they'll have had the time to recover from it (on a certain level).

 

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1 hour ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

I read Vogl’s article and I’m saying BS.  
VO, Reinhart, Eichel and Skinner are or will be locked up.

Mitts, Thompson and Cozens are part of mix long-term.  Lazar and Asplund are also in the mix going forward.  KO is also here for 3 more seasons.  

That’s 10 of 12 slots with just internal candidates.

Now add Ruotsalainen to the mix along with Davidsson, Pekar, Weissbach and other current prospects and we have plenty of bodies with potential.  This doesn’t include any budget FAs, future picks and college FA that Jbot adds to the mix.

Jbot, with the Pilut and Routsalainen signings, has shown he has zero problem with finding overlooked guys with potential to fill holes in his prospect pool.  

 

Love the optimism but I can't agree.

I agree that the top 4 forwards are good players and will all be locked up.  But that top-4 group is good, not great, and is nowhere near good enough to carry the team.

It's at least 50/50 that both Mitts and TT wash out.  I'd say it's less than 33% likely that either of them becomes a good 2nd-liner and less than 20% likely that both of them become 40-point guys.

For that matter, it's at least 60% likely that both Pilut and Ruotsy wash out.

Lazar is a fine 4th-liner but that's it.

KO is an albatross -- so while you're right that he accounts for a slot, that is a bad thing, not a good thing.

As for the rest, you're right that there are plenty of bodies, but "plenty of bodies" does not equal "strong likelihood of a good enough forward group to produce a top-25% NHL offense."

 

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19 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

KO is an albatross -- so while you're right that he accounts for a slot, that is a bad thing, not a good thing.

Totally agree & i know most others do as well. He may have found a role for himself in a checking role, but when you're paying $6 Million per year on a player, you need him to be above average at something. IE: you need him to score 20 goals per year.

He's the 14th highest cap hit for RW's in the entire NHL. On par with Patrik Laine, David Pastrnak, Radulov, Loui Eriksson, Dustin Brown, Brock Boeser, Ryan Callahan etc... I could go on because quite literally there are much better players getting paid the same or even less than him out there but you get the idea. Okposo is the 3rd highest cap number on our team & offers nothing in terms of production that any of those players do. If we could magically swap out him & his contract for one of those other players, the look & composition of our team improves dramatically. Think of what our forward group would look like if we could allot that $6 Million into a different & real quality Top 6 forward? It'd be night & day with what we have now.

There for sure are other areas of our roster we could focus on to improve, but there is no doubt that KO is an albatross & a dead weight that hamstrings our team. Regardless of how well he does in a checking role.

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That shoulder injury for Thompson really sucks.  They shifted him onto what should have been a better development path, only for it to be quickly derailed the second he earned a brief look back in the NHL.

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24 minutes ago, MillerVaive said:

Totally agree & i know most others do as well. He may have found a role for himself in a checking role, but when you're paying $6 Million per year on a player, you need him to be above average at something. IE: you need him to score 20 goals per year.

He's the 14th highest cap hit for RW's in the entire NHL. On par with Patrik Laine, David Pastrnak, Radulov, Loui Eriksson, Dustin Brown, Brock Boeser, Ryan Callahan etc... I could go on because quite literally there are much better players getting paid the same or even less than him out there but you get the idea. Okposo is the 3rd highest cap number on our team & offers nothing in terms of production that any of those players do. If we could magically swap out him & his contract for one of those other players, the look & composition of our team improves dramatically. Think of what our forward group would look like if we could allot that $6 Million into a different & real quality Top 6 forward? It'd be night & day with what we have now.

There for sure are other areas of our roster we could focus on to improve, but there is no doubt that KO is an albatross & a dead weight that hamstrings our team. Regardless of how well he does in a checking role.

Absolutely he isn't worth what they're paying him.  But, with the time left on the deal he can't realistically be bought out/cut outright and nobody is trading for him unless there is about $4MM worth of value going out the door with him.

As long as that's the Sabres only bad contract, they can live with it as everybody has A bad contract to deal with.  And the Sabres will eventually have others, they just have to make sure they don't end up w/ 3-4 at any given time, or it will effect their competitiveness.   Though it'd be awesome if they could land some Tampa style GOOD contracts as that gets them such an advatage.

And it's towards getting those other good contracts that the Skinner deal hurts.  That extra $1-1.5MM he got per year isn't just money that's not available for other players, it raises his benchmark to which others will compare their own value to the team.  (And they had to sign Skinner this off-season, not signing him really wasn't an option.  But that contract will still raise pain points.)

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1 hour ago, WildCard said:

Honestly based on what Liger, Rakish, and some others have said on the development of other players we passed on to take those guys. The article above says we're pretty screwed unless we have some miracle hits. Out of the guys you listed, maybe Cozens and UPL become impact players? Maybe Samuelsson?

If Samuelsson becomes more than a bottom pairing defender, well I will completely rethink how I feel about the Sabres drafting. 

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Just now, LGR4GM said:

If Samuelsson becomes more than a bottom pairing defender, well I will completely rethink how I feel about the Sabres drafting. 

And how likely is that?

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3 minutes ago, WildCard said:

And how likely is that?

Well, I don't think he has the offense, his footwork (agility) is questionable but could improve, and he is big and physical. So not likely. Johnson is the better prospect. 

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1 minute ago, LGR4GM said:

Well, I don't think he has the offense, his footwork (agility) is questionable but could improve, and he is big and physical. So not likely. Johnson is the better prospect. 

Who?

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The good news is that typically forwards develop faster so if we find good forwards this draft, we might be doing better. 

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1 hour ago, LGR4GM said:

The good news is that typically forwards develop faster so if we find good forwards this draft, we might be doing better. 

It's increasingly likely the Sabres will be adding a highly-ranked forward in June — hopefully he's more Rantanen/Barzal/Meier than Zacha/Crouse/Senyshyn.

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Again, this is just a ridiculous premise. First, they are going to sign an RFA or two. Second, they will acquire a second line center and then with Cozens as the right winger you will have two top lines basically locked up for five years. Third, you will have more then enough forwards to fill the bottom six, quite adequately with guys like Johansson, Asplund and the such. Fourth and finally, with a relatively young, set defensive core you have at least three years to fill the forward ranks and all you have to do is hit on one every year and you won’t need to worry about the top six for ten years.

 

And that doesn’t even take into account Casey whom everyone tells me is still so massively talented.

Edited by tom webster

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