Our first mailbag here at Die By The Blade. I appreciate those of you that submitted questions and hope this motivates others to get involved in the conversation.
Would you consider a Sam Reinhart for Sam Bennett trade?
No, in theory, this trade makes sense because Bennett possesses skills that the Sabres lack, but I cannot ignore the fact that it took Bennett an eternity to register his first point of the year. Reinhart has also outscored Bennett in each of the past 2 seasons, last year by an eye-popping 21 points. Tim Murray made a mistake with his first selection in the 2014 entry draft, but it wasn’t choosing the wrong Sam.
I do however think that Sam Bennett is an interesting low-risk target and one I hope the Sabres consider if they have the opportunity. Assuming this season continues to trend in the wrong direction, I think it would be smart to pay a modest price to attempt rejuvenating a once promising player.
Is there an Evander Kane trade scenario that wouldn’t delay the rebuild?
There will be much debate about Evander Kane’s future with the Buffalo Sabres until he is either re-signed or traded. Moving on from one of the league’s best even-strength goal scorers seems counterintuitive, but if Jason Botterill decides to part ways, there will be good sense behind his decision.
Our radio station sold us on the idea of obtaining Kane based on his advanced statistics. In my opinion, Kane pokes holes in the theory that Corsi is an infallible way to evaluate a player. Although he has gotten better with his shot selection, he still has the tendency to kill possession with poor puck management. Screaming down the wing and firing a shot into the goaltender’s crest is considered a positive Corsi play, but is often a let down when you have Jack Eichel as your center. Add off ice indiscretions, durability issues and the locker room trouble he had in Winnipeg and you are left with valid reasons why Jason Botterill may be apprehensive extending him.
Tim Murray’s shortsightedness already stunted the rebuild, I don’t believe an Evander Kane trade would compound the situation. I would be more concerned with maximizing the return in a trade, rather than focusing on compensation to salvage this year’s season. Teams like Columbus and Pittsburgh who were left at the altar by Joe Sakic in the Matt Duchene sweepstakes should have a similar interest in Kane. The Vancouver Canucks are another team to consider. Jim Benning made an effort to acquire him from Winnipeg but ultimately didn't have the assets to outspend Tim Murray.
What’s happened to Ristolainen? Wasn’t he suppose to excel in Housley’s system?
Rasmus like most of his teammates has struggled to get off the ground this year. When you take into account his uneven play the second half of last season, there may be cause for some concern. I believe Marco Scandella, Nathan Beaulieu and Victor Antipin were acquired to lessen Ristolainen’s workload, but a rash of injuries caused his ice time to balloon once again.
Now that Ristolainen himself if on the shelf, his time in the press box may give him the perspective needed to reset his season. Once Housley has a healthy defense corp at his disposal, it is my hope that he will shelter Rasmus by decreasing his minutes, defensive zone starts and match up responsibilities. I know that doesn’t exactly sound like a number 1 defenseman, but the coaching staff has to put Ristolainen back together because the last regime tore him apart by feeding him to the wolves.