According to a report from Sportsnet, the Buffalo Sabres have found their new general manager.
On last night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, Sportsnet reporter Nick Kypreos said that, “It’s a foregone conclusion” in Pittsburgh that assistant Penguins GM Jason Botterill will be named as the next GM of the Buffalo Sabres.
According to those in the know, the announcement is only being delayed until the end of the Penguins-Capitals series, so Buffalo fans who don’t have any playoff rooting interests should hope for Pittsburgh to close the series out tomorrow. Once the round two matchup is over, an official announcement could be made within the next few days.
Botterill, a former NHL winger who played a few games for the Sabres from 2002-2004, has served as Pittsburgh’s assistant GM since 2009, and his specialties include cap management, running a highly successful AHL team, and player development. He has an MBA from the University of Michigan, and has been one of the hottest young GM candidates over the past few seasons.
Terry Pegula has cited the Penguins organization as a model for the Sabres, and has obvious ties to the region and team through his work with Penn State and the previous hiring of Dan Bylsma. Botterill is also the only person (that we know if) who has interviewed twice with Buffalo, if you need any further evidence.
In addition to this bombshell news, Sportsnet also reported that one of Botterill’s top coaching candidates could be a man currently serving as Pittsburgh’s assistant coach - Rick Tocchet.
Tocchet has served as an assistant or head coach for many teams around the NHL since 2002 (including for a young Steven Stamkos in Tampa) and has served as Pittsburgh’s assistant bench boss since 2014.
One of Tocchet’s biggest strengths is one of former Sabres coach Dan Bylsma’s biggest weaknesses - player relationships. Says Kypreos, “The other concern in Buffalo is that they find a coach who can manage Jack Eichel. Tocchet has got a great relationship with Sidney Crosby and many believe that he has helped Sid's leadership go to another level. Certainly Tocchet could be one guy that could help a Jack Eichel.”
Tocchet obviously would not be available until the Penguins playoff run is completely over, but I’m sure we’ll hear about some other coaching candidates regardless of whether Botterill is actually hired or not.
But for Sabres fans wishing this whole front office search would get a move on, you’re gonna want to root against Pittsburgh from now on.