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Fixing the Sabres Long-Term - Can it be done?


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42 minutes ago, dudacek said:

I’m not OK with bad results.

And I am not just seeing effort, I’m seeing a team that is creating chances and limiting chances.

I believe that Skinner Eichel and Hall are probably going to combine for more than 1 goal in most five game stretches, and when that happens we will go 3-1-1 instead of 1-3-1.

I don’t know if this team is going to make the playoffs, but so far they have looked to me like they are capable of making the playoffs.

Yesterday they didn’t lose because they were soft, or listless, or the same old Sabres, or any other tiresome BS that dominated the game day thread. they lost because of two god-awful defensive plays by Dahlin, a couple posts, and a terrible penalty call on Risto heading into OT.

The PK looks better, the breakout looks better, the secondary scoring looks better, the rush defence looks better and the offensive cycle looks better. I will take Cozens, Reider, Eakin and Sheahan over Sheary, Vesey, ERod and Frolik any day of the week. 

The top scorers haven’t started scoring, the PP has looked good once it gets set up, but has struggled to get set up, and the goaltending is still questionable. These are things that can be fixed.

***** the long-term, the Sabres can be fixed right now.

In sports you get bad calls that work in your favor and bad calls that work against you. That happens. But for the life of me not only was the Risto penalty a non-existent penalty but what made it worse was the timing of the call. Typically referees are inclined to swallow their whistles at the end of an even game and let the players play on. The tide has to change sometime soon----I hope! 

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I am anxiously waiting for Dahlin to get going. He has too much talent to not be producing.

Watched the Habs-Canucks game. Pettersson is going through the same thing, he had 1 assist in 6 games. No one would have predicted that and I am sure he will ramp it up.

Another thing I thought about with Dahlin is that he is adjusting to the muscle and weight he put on. He can be a difference maker and I am willing to give him a bit more time to get going and to continue his path towards being a top Dan in this league.

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29 minutes ago, French Collection said:

I am anxiously waiting for Dahlin to get going. He has too much talent to not be producing.

Watched the Habs-Canucks game. Pettersson is going through the same thing, he had 1 assist in 6 games. No one would have predicted that and I am sure he will ramp it up.

Another thing I thought about with Dahlin is that he is adjusting to the muscle and weight he put on. He can be a difference maker and I am willing to give him a bit more time to get going and to continue his path towards being a top Dan in this league.

or he's just finally learning how to be a Sabre. You know, have a good time off the ice, don't work too hard, play inconsistently and don't correct your mistakes cause you know there's no way they can afford to bench you anyway. Sabres hockey. Lots of mentors here to help him lose that work ethic he came in with before they get to Cozens. 

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Fixing the Sabres. Basically follow the |Ottawa model. 

1. Get a tough hard work team play oriented coach like Tortorella. 

2. Trade Eichel for a boatload of young assets. Yes, he's a talented player but he's a crap captain and there's too much losing culture baggage to build around him at this point. 

3. Trade Hall at the deadline for young assets along with any other pending FAs and/or big contracts like Reinhart, Risto, Montour, Ullmark (maybe), Staal (if you can get anything). Basically everybody but Cozens and Olofsson . 

4. Find a way to get rid of Skinner. This is essential or nothing else works either. 

5. I'm undecided on Dahlin but if the offer is there move him out too. 

6. Rebuild around a model that moves from the goalie out rather than from the top down. get away from the overpaid superstar model and favour a work hard solid never quit middle type player similar to what Columbus has done in recent years. Build the culture first. Once that is in place you have a foundation to build on properly long term, and that was the ask, how to do it long term.

I know people will say that's crazy and we are close and to them I say you're wrong, we are not close and we are locked in a losing spiral and flawed structure that will never get us there without extreme luck which is unlikely. The current situation is untenable simply because too much money is locked into star players that haven't and cannot deliver us the results we all want. If they could, they already would have. 

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25 minutes ago, PerreaultForever said:

or he's just finally learning how to be a Sabre. You know, have a good time off the ice, don't work too hard, play inconsistently and don't correct your mistakes cause you know there's no way they can afford to bench you anyway. Sabres hockey. Lots of mentors here to help him lose that work ethic he came in with before they get to Cozens. 

Why do you say that Dahlin is not a hard worker? You don't think that the increased weight and muscle he added this offseason is a sign of a person who was dedicated to be prepared for the upcoming season? I agree with you that Dahlin has been inconsistent this season. Why is it surprising that a young player is inconsistent? Risto is now playing well and has played with more consistency. How many years has he been in the league?

For those who are recommending that the Sabres should trade Jack and Dahlin and start completely over for another multi-year rebuild on top of the current multi-year rebuild you are not being rational. Acting out of frustration instead of acting with thought, clarity and proportion is promoting a strategy that leads to regression and self-destruction. It makes no freaking sense. 

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This team is only a goalie, right coaching staff, and the right vets away from contending. They have the talent which is the hardest part to ever acquire. 
 

We have goalies in the system. I like what Krueger is doing more than I dislike, just not Steve Smith who I think is a problem.  I don’t think Staal is the right vet tho

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2 hours ago, JohnC said:

Why do you say that Dahlin is not a hard worker? You don't think that the increased weight and muscle he added this offseason is a sign of a person who was dedicated to be prepared for the upcoming season? I agree with you that Dahlin has been inconsistent this season. Why is it surprising that a young player is inconsistent? Risto is now playing well and has played with more consistency. How many years has he been in the league?

For those who are recommending that the Sabres should trade Jack and Dahlin and start completely over for another multi-year rebuild on top of the current multi-year rebuild you are not being rational. Acting out of frustration instead of acting with thought, clarity and proportion is promoting a strategy that leads to regression and self-destruction. It makes no freaking sense. 

What I am saying is the Sabres, as a team, tend not to work too hard. We haven't been a nose to the grindstone hard working team since Nolan's red and black and blue teams. 

As for the tear down rebuild why not? If you did it wrong isn't it better to redo it properly rather than tweaking and failing to various degrees for another decade? 

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9 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

Fixing the Sabres. Basically follow the |Ottawa model. 

1. Get a tough hard work team play oriented coach like Tortorella. 

2. Trade Eichel for a boatload of young assets. Yes, he's a talented player but he's a crap captain and there's too much losing culture baggage to build around him at this point. 

3. Trade Hall at the deadline for young assets along with any other pending FAs and/or big contracts like Reinhart, Risto, Montour, Ullmark (maybe), Staal (if you can get anything). Basically everybody but Cozens and Olofsson . 

4. Find a way to get rid of Skinner. This is essential or nothing else works either. 

5. I'm undecided on Dahlin but if the offer is there move him out too. 

6. Rebuild around a model that moves from the goalie out rather than from the top down. get away from the overpaid superstar model and favour a work hard solid never quit middle type player similar to what Columbus has done in recent years. Build the culture first. Once that is in place you have a foundation to build on properly long term, and that was the ask, how to do it long term.

I know people will say that's crazy and we are close and to them I say you're wrong, we are not close and we are locked in a losing spiral and flawed structure that will never get us there without extreme luck which is unlikely. The current situation is untenable simply because too much money is locked into star players that haven't and cannot deliver us the results we all want. If they could, they already would have. 

I don't agree with all your points, but if things don't turn around this year I'm heading toward your side. 

1.  I don't want to see this team go 100% physical and try to play 1990's or early 2000's hockey, but a move toward players who are known for having that 100% motor (even if it means slightly less talent) I can get behind. 

2. I would NEVER want to trade Eichel, but if this team continues to flounder, and you can get a major epic haul for him, I'd consider it.

3. If they are not making the playoffs, agreed.  I know here we had a big argument about Reinhart being better than Olofsson (that may be true) but my 'eye test' early this year says Olofsson is playing harder, and Reinhart has hit his ceiling.

6.  I'm not there yet.  You don't want crap goalies, but someone like Ullmark WITH a better prospect coming up behind him is good for me...I think the Sabres may be there.

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16 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Hopefully, but who says that we are ever going to reopen arenas to 100% capacity.  That said how do we win now?  How do we navigate the cap for the next 2-3 years as it remain flat?  Also when does Hall's production fall like most NHLers in their 30's?  at 31 like KO or 33 or like Staal at 37?  I'm not interested in that risk if I'm stuck with Skinner.

You think that they might NEVER open areas to 100% capacity?!  I feel confident that this will happen by around Thanksgiving.

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13 hours ago, Thorny said:

The notable difference being that Dahlin has a full-season's worth of good performance in the bank. Something with Dahlin is amiss rather than just non-existent, as has been for Casey at the NHL level. That explains a big factor in the perception discrepancy. 

When was this full season of good performance from Dahlin?  Last season?

He had something like an entire month+ last season where he had miscues all over the place and people here were ripping him to shreds.  By the end of the season he was playing really well.

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11 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

or he's just finally learning how to be a Sabre. You know, have a good time off the ice, don't work too hard, play inconsistently and don't correct your mistakes cause you know there's no way they can afford to bench you anyway. Sabres hockey. Lots of mentors here to help him lose that work ethic he came in with before they get to Cozens. 

Didn’t he get benched just last game?

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8 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

What I am saying is the Sabres, as a team, tend not to work too hard. We haven't been a nose to the grindstone hard working team since Nolan's red and black and blue teams. 

As for the tear down rebuild why not? If you did it wrong isn't it better to redo it properly rather than tweaking and failing to various degrees for another decade? 

Nolan or Ruff?

If you are looking at a team from 25 years ago, I think you’ve missed the league changing around you.

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18 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

We all know the Sabres are a swimmer in the ocean holding on to a life raft and trying to stay afloat.  TP got lucky that the Bills have become excellent because they got the right guys in charge.  I just finished an Athletic article on McDermott and what a great hire.

However building a football organization is much easier then building a hockey one.  No guaranteed contracts, drafting mature players who you expect to step right in etc....

The question right now is whether this "rebuild" of the Sabres 3.0 is salvageable?  I think it is, but I'm not sure KA is up to the task, but he is so raw who knows.  He certainly is no Beane experience wise.  That doesn't mean he can't succeed, but it makes it that much harder.  The team just doesn't have enough talent up front and in goal to win on talent alone.  They also don't have a coaching staff or enough experienced players steeped in winning to help them all buy in.

Short-term we need playoff caliber goaltending for the next 3 years.  UPL maybe the future or even Portillo, but that is years away.  Ullmark is a solid NHL goalie, but his terrible save % on the PK gives me serious pause.  I actually want MAF.  He is a proven winner and leader.  Right now Staal is the only one we have.

We also need to hope that the kids come in and make a difference over the next 2 years.  Samuelsson, Johnson, Bryson, Cozens, Quinn, JJP and others step up quicker then expected helping to salvage this mess.

However internal prospects won't be enough.  We need the guys to stop being soft and I have the first part of the solution.  I'm bucking RK upstairs.  His D system has done a great job of suppressing the opponents opportunities, but his special teams and offense are awful.  He also has them playing soft.  He also is killing Dahlin by to much structure and not enough creativity.  As a team, to much perimeter and not enough forechecking.  The solution is easy.  Hire Mike Grier to coach this team.  He isn't soft, has received excellent reviews as an Ast Coach, is part of the Sabres family, and understands how to build a winning environment. If he coaches as he played, relentless, this team will change in a hurry for the positive.  

I'm also trading Hall at the deadline to get more depth in the organization up front.  I'm not investing another long-term deal in a 30 ish player.  Outside Jack, Cozens and maybe Reinhart, are their any true core pieces in our forward group?  I'm also taking a page out of the McDermott playbook and deciding to trade away any guys who aren't committed to winning.  DR let Ruff and Drury set that new tone.  MAF and Grier can change the tone here.  So far I've seen only 3 Sabres who have put forth real effort all 5 games; Lazar, McCabe and Risto.  That's it.

Identifying who to keep and who to let go is hard and this is where KA's inexperience hurts us.  IMHO there are only 4-7 players on this team that I want long-term and a couple I'd be fine with keeping.  They are Dahlin, Risto (really), Cozens and Jack.  I'm fine with Reinhart and Jokiharju, if he makes progress also, and possibly McCabe. I want to get faster and more physical.  

The first step is playing the kids as soon as we are truly out of the playoff picture, which should be soon.  R2 and Mitts need a long look see this season to see if we have anything there.  I might even throw Quinn in for 6 games or so to see how he does.  I'm probably also recalling Bryson and Samuelsson to give them a taste of the NHL and see how they react.  

Other then the core guys mentioned earlier, I'm done with most everyone else including VO.  I'm buying out KO after this season.  I'm trading Hall as I mentioned earlier, unless I can find a taker for Skinner.  I'm hoping (giving them an incentive) Seattle takes Miller off our hands.  I'm extending Risto because we need a physical presence and his improvement over the last season plus is remarkable.  I may extend McCabe, because we have no else like him and he meshes well with Risto.  I'm keeping Ullmark for now to learn from MAF and also to balance PT.  Everyone else, trade or let walk.  I'm also only taking FAs if I can from winning organizations.  I know this doesn't guarantee anything (see Conor Sheary), but at least they understand the buy in to succeed.  

The truth is this season is probably no longer about a playoff birth.  It's about KA evaluating the organization top to bottom, from RK down to the 4th liners in Rochester.  If he is honest with himself, he'll probably see what I see, a few good pieces that need to be kept and taught to win and the rest that can be flushed away.

There is a reason that there are no Bills drafted players on the Bills that weren't drafted by McDermott, that there are 12 ex Panthers on this team and that Jerry Hughes is the only holdover from the previous administration.

Not bad.  Not sure we can actually get MAF and if we did that this organization would not suck the fire out of him.  Our goaltending is terrible.

Acquiring Grier is interesting too but the FO seems to love RK.  

Samuelsson, Johnson, Bryson, Cozens, Quinn, JJP, UPL - Maybe a few develop into contributing players but what are the chances of even 2 of those prospects you mentioned being impact players?   

I think we have seen enough of Skinner to know what he is.   The contract is a killer so if we can package him to Seattle we should.  

If Hall and Eichel really click, and Skinner can be moved, we can maybe extend Hall.  Otherwise he gets moved at trade deadline for picks/prospects.  

After 5 games I’m concerned about Eichel’s psyche too.  This rebuild is wearing on him, Reinhart, Risto and Dahlin.  

 

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4 minutes ago, Pimlach said:

Not bad.  Not sure we can actually get MAF and if we did that this organization would not suck the fire out of him.  Our goaltending is terrible.

Acquiring Grier is interesting too but the FO seems to love RK.  

Samuelsson, Johnson, Bryson, Cozens, Quinn, JJP, UPL - Maybe a few develop into contributing players but what are the chances of even 2 of those prospects you mentioned being impact players?   

I think we have seen enough of Skinner to know what he is.   The contract is a killer so if we can package him to Seattle we should.  

If Hall and Eichel really click, and Skinner can be moved, we can maybe extend Hall.  Otherwise he gets moved at trade deadline for picks/prospects.  

After 5 games I’m concerned about Eichel’s psyche too.  This rebuild is wearing on him, Reinhart, Risto and Dahlin.  

 

Can't trade Hall for picks and prospects.  We need actual NHL players.

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8 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

What I am saying is the Sabres, as a team, tend not to work too hard. We haven't been a nose to the grindstone hard working team since Nolan's red and black and blue teams. 

As for the tear down rebuild why not? If you did it wrong isn't it better to redo it properly rather than tweaking and failing to various degrees for another decade? 

In any major teardown for the purpose of rebuilding the goal would be to add players with the potential to be elite. We already have two top of the draft type talents in the fold in Eichel and Dahlin who would be very difficult to replace. So what is your solution? Get rid of them so you can hope to get similar talents. That approach makes no sense. It's like running on a treadmill. A lot of exertion that gets you nowhere.  

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5 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Can't trade Hall for picks and prospects.  We need actual NHL players.

Your response leaves me perplexed. What does it mean? Although this early into the season Hall has not converted many plays it is obvious that he is a top tier talent. Why would you want to dispose of him for basically nothing? @GAsabrefanyou are jumping off the horse too soon. Be a little more patient before throwing in the towel. 

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24 minutes ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

Can't trade Hall for picks and prospects.  We need actual NHL players.

All of this assumes this season is another bad one and it’s way too early to say.   
 

I don’t think we can extend Hall and keep the Skinner/Okposso load, plus there is Reinhart and Dahlin to consider.  Hall could yield assets down the road if needed.  

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2 minutes ago, Pimlach said:

Well deadline trades are usually yield picks/prospects rather than watching a player walk.   I don’t think we can extend Hall and keep the Skinner/Okposso load, plus there is Reinhart and Dahlin to consider.  

Agreed, I don't think they can keep Hall without moving some salary out.

That being the case, if Buffalo is out of the playoff hunt as the trade deadline nears, I agree picks and prospects are what teams that are in the playoff hunt looking to bolster scoring with a guy like Hall will offer. I'd want picks.

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Not sure why Jack would sign a long term contract with this team.  Hall will sense that and not return.  Reinhardt won't skate unless he is with Jack. They are still delusional about Risto.  Skinner and Dahlin have regressed.  There is poison somewhere in that locker room.  Too many guys with too much losing.  Sorry to say, but dump all the vets (Jack too) and start over.

 

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3 minutes ago, tennessee dan said:

Not sure why Jack would sign a long term contract with this team.

He did.  A long time ago.  He's under contract for the next six seasons.

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1 hour ago, Curt said:

When was this full season of good performance from Dahlin?  Last season?

He had something like an entire month+ last season where he had miscues all over the place and people here were ripping him to shreds.  By the end of the season he was playing really well.

I thought the fact he had perhaps the best season ever in the history of time for an 18 year old D might qualify but wtf do I know

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12 hours ago, JohnC said:

Why do you say that Dahlin is not a hard worker? You don't think that the increased weight and muscle he added this offseason is a sign of a person who was dedicated to be prepared for the upcoming season? I agree with you that Dahlin has been inconsistent this season. Why is it surprising that a young player is inconsistent? Risto is now playing well and has played with more consistency. How many years has he been in the league?

For those who are recommending that the Sabres should trade Jack and Dahlin and start completely over for another multi-year rebuild on top of the current multi-year rebuild you are not being rational. Acting out of frustration instead of acting with thought, clarity and proportion is promoting a strategy that leads to regression and self-destruction. It makes no freaking sense. 

Dahlin may indeed work hard in practice and in off season training.   The frustration I sense from fans is that he does not always play hard.   Like with an intensity to excel on every shift. 

There are too many shifts that do not generate offense, his forte, and the recent lackluster play in front of our net where intensity to clear rebounds and move people out is needed.  Some suggest that RK‘s system is limiting him.  Fair or not - we are looking for a “generational talent” that comes in and make us better.  Perhaps unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. 

I think you last paragraph is spot on.  We do not need another tear down rebuild.  We need a great goalie and a few players that hate to lose and will do something about it.  

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12 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

Fixing the Sabres. Basically follow the |Ottawa model. 

4. Find a way to get rid of Skinner. This is essential or nothing else works either. 

That's the real trick, isn't it? And it's going to cost us something extra.

There are two more seasons (at least) of flat- or further-diminished cap, let alone self-imposed internal caps. While this helps us in re-signing Dahlin and Jokiharju on bridge deals, the Skinner deal keeps getting worse all the time (with every goalless game). No team can afford to take on $9M at this time. 

I know folks want Seattle to take Skinner, but that requires Skinner to waive his NMC and Seattle to be foolish enough to take him. How many first round pick(s) are folks willing to give to Seattle to take a $9M 3rd line winger (Carolina and now again here).

Completely aside: I do suspect (again, complete speculation, but I can easily see it happening if attendance remains limited through the end of 2021 and into 2022 --- which makes sense to me, vaccinations or not) that the season after the expansion draft we'll probably see a push for a compliance buyout option from the owners if there's another cap dip. One per team. It cannot be done before the expansion because Seattle paid $650M to get good players, so the league can't allow the buyout until afterward. Maybe in the summer of 2022 we can buy him out.

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6 minutes ago, Thorny said:

I thought the fact he had perhaps the best season ever in the history of time for an 18 year old D might qualify but wtf do I know

Lol, ok.  He had rough patches his first year too.  You are right, in comparison to Mitts, there is no comparison.  Something is up with Dahlin, but I’m sure he’ll come around.

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Just now, Curt said:

Lol, ok.  He had rough patches his first year too.  You are right, in comparison to Mitts, there is no comparison.  Something is up with Dahlin, but I’m sure he’ll come around.

Everyone has rough patches every year - this is getting ridiculous. Jack had the worst stretch of his career last year, in his best season, by far. 

Dahlin was nominated for the freaking Calder trophy. He had a great season the year before Krueger got here, it's just a fact. The original post I quoted said it was really interesting that the narrative is so different between Mittelstadt and Dahlin, leaving out the fact Dahlin had a season considered by most everyone to be a smashing success. If that's not useful context in the explanation, people don't actually want answers. 

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