Pinch yourself, Sabres fans.
Wearing number 5️⃣3️⃣ for your Buffalo Sabres! pic.twitter.com/C0WjwWBAtR— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) August 8, 2018
Yes, this offseason is a real thing that is happening - you can exhale.
Jason Botterill continues to inspire the exhausted Sabres fan base with his grace and tact, as he recently completed another deal that figures to make his offensively-challenged hockey team even a little better
Saying the acquisition of Jeff Skinner will make the team “a little better” is most certainly being modest.
With how “good” offseason things have turned out in Buffalo recently, it seems wise to hold back expectations until results start to pour in.
To put yourself at ease though, we can look at the cold, hard facts here.
Skinner brings a goal scoring prowess to the Queen City. In the last five seasons, Jeff Skinner has scored at least 18 goals in every season. Over his eight year career, he has averaged 25.5 goals per season.
How bad do the Sabres need to collect goal scorers? If you answered anything more than “bad”, congratulations on your gold star for the day – you are very right.
Since the 2013-14 season, the Buffalo Sabres have scored 899 total goals. Buffalo ranks dead last in total goals scored – not counting the Vegas Golden Knights, for obvious reasons. In each of those last five seasons, Buffalo has not once cracked the 200-goal mark. Their offense is beyond porous.
As for what Buffalo gave up, that should not be too hard to swallow.
We start off with prospect Cliff Pu, who is a talent in his own right. Pu was expected to step into the AHL this season with the Rochester Americans and make his professional debut. Not yet a top prospect, Pu found himself in the second tier of prospect rankings for the Buffalo Sabres. A player who was expected to contribute on a nightly basis but most certainly, he would not have been talked about with the game’s top prospects.
Buffalo also shipped three draft picks to Carolina with Pu.
According to TSN’s Scott Cullen, who has done extensive research to create a database for determining actual draft pick value, the Sabres did not appear to have to give up too much of a potential future for Skinner.
Per Cullen, the 2019 2nd round draft pick turns into a 34.5% chance of becoming a NHL player. The 2020 3rd round pick is a 27.6% chance of becoming a NHL player and the 2020 6th round pick is a 14.4% chance of a NHL player.
If the percentages seem a little high, do not worry. Those percentages are only for the player to play at least one NHL game.
In a previous piece, Cullen dove a little deeper into the draft statistics. The numbers he returned, in relation to the picks Buffalo sent to Carolina, should lessen any potential trader’s remorse.
Per Cullen’s research of the NHL Draft from 1990 to 2013 - if all the traded picks ended up being the first pick of their respective rounds, there would be at least an 85% chance per pick that all three traded picks end up being a fourth line player or worse. As the draft round increases, the likelihood of the player making an impact diminishes rapidly.
On the surface, not a huge risk to take for a proven 30-goal scorer.
This most certainly seems like a deal where Buffalo took assets they held and turned them into a sure thing, while Carolina is collecting a few lottery tickets in hopes of striking it big.
Exactly what Jason Botterill did is what Tim Murray always talked big about but only was able take advantage of it a few times. Find a team willing (or desperate) to make a deal and give them a call. While Murray was the mastermind behind the Kane and O’Reilly trades that sent prospects out to the Western Conference, we have come to find out that those deals were more of a rookie general manager throwing darts, furiously trying to strike a bullseye.
Buffalo continues to slowly push their chips toward the center, as they gear up an attempt to make a rush for a playoff spot this season. Despite recent struggles, it would be hard to think the playoffs are not a goal for this squad.
With the addition of Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner this season and the addition of Marco Scandella last offseason, Jason Botterill continues to identify weaknesses on his team before tactically making moves that will help improve the overall product.
Botterill, for all intents and purposes, is putting his money where his mouth is. Instead of getting upset and blaming others for this team’s current failures, he continues to make smart moves. He is creating his own path while essentially being the anti-Tim Murray. Very refreshing for this fanbase.
Each passing move brings the Sabres a little closer to the surface and almost out of the National Hockey League’s basement. Hopefully this is the season Buffalo finds themselves fighting for a playoff berth when spring rolls around.