FanPost

GM for February:

I gather being "GM for a Day" posts might have gotten a bit stale since last season's avalanche of GMs. I haven't seen much posted as of late and since we have a breakage in the season due to "Bye Week" and "All Star Weekend", I'd thought I'd give this a try (with a bit of a twist, i.e. different paths that a GM could take going into the last few months of play) I hope this amuses us to the differences that any of us DBTBs could take.

Honestly, there is so much more that BOTs can do this season as opposed to last year. I think last year it was inevitable that we'd be selecting in the top three picks with an eye to some FAs. This year is totally different as the team has improved? a bit.

But before I post my GM thoughts, I think it helpful in giving a bit of a "baseline" as to where we're at as a team as of January 23rd. At present, we're out of the playoff picture, chasing Pittsburgh, Boston, and Columbus. Looking up at the Sabres, we have Carolina, NY Rangers, and Florida. Everyone below Florida are non-contenders in my book and most likely sellers by the end of February. For that matter, I think the Rangers are going to be sellers too but because they are close enough, I'm including them in this scenario.

By chasing the teams mentioned just above us, I did a quick scan of the remaining schedules for each team. I honestly like Buffalo's chances based on the next 32 games as we have completed our West Coast swings and seem to have the easiest schedule remaining. Honestly, the next 11 games, in my estimation, are what will swing us into a playoff spot or doom us to be on the outside looking in.

The Sabres play 7 of the next 11 games at home (actually 7 in a row at home - unheard of really) while playing very beatable teams in Chicago, Detroit, and the Rangers). If we end up at 5 - 6 during that stretch and blow the home ice advantage laid out for us, I think we're looking at early golf schedules for the guys.

The Pens also play 7 of their next 11 at home, but not 7 in a row. They also have to play Toronto, TB (twice), and Calgary, much more daunting than the Sabres schedule. What makes the Pens so dangerous as compared to the Sabres is that they have scored 29 more goals than we and have a +23 goal advantage to our -4. They get more scoring from more lines than we do. In addition, in March, the Pens come to Buffalo twice to play us. Those 2 matches may decide the 8th playoff spot.

The Bruins still have to a West Coast road swing to contend with. They open with Winnipeg right after the ASB and play 6 of the next 11 away. They have an easier schedule than the Pens, so I suppose they will be hard to catch unless they totally collapse.

The Blue Jackets open the break at home against Buffalo, which will be a very meaningful game. We need to win that one or fall behind 7 points to them. Their schedule is similar to Boston's and could be hard to catch in the next 10/11 games. They play mostly poor teams with a few harder ones (Washington/Winnipeg) in between.

Here is where the "GM" in me delves into possible scenarios for Buffalo.

Scenario One:

Be Buyers before the FA deadline. While I like the idea of being a "buyer" I don't believe we have the assets or cap space to totally go all in. One, we still need to stockpile the minor league teams with talent and I'd be opposed to flirting away those four first round draft choices coming up in the next two years. I also don't think you want to "drain the pool" so to speak by trading away any of the Rochester talent. Cap wise, we're at $51.2 million and next year's total cap space is estimated to be $83.M. I would rather not be strong buyers, especially for a rental IF the rental costs us draft picks and/or a top contributor in Rochester.

I'd like to see the Sabres target the following: (These are only suggestions. I've looked at a lot of FAs but considering a number of them are either on teams in our division or on contenders, it's not likely that most of them will be traded to us)

Defense: Michael Del Zoto (ANA cap hit - $3 M). Trade: 5th round 2019

Ben Lovejoy (NJD cap hit $2.67 M Trade: 5th round 2019

Center: Brian Boyle (NJD cap hit $2.75 M - only 12 goals and 5 assists this year)

Not many Centers are there to be had. Either they are on contenders or have poor production. Who would you like to see come here?

Wingers: Richard Panik. (AZ - 21 points $2.8 million cap hit)

Scenario Two:

We do nothing. Scenario one has us a "Buyers" but as you can see, my "Buyers" isn't a risk proposition. Perhaps as GM, you would be more of a risk taker than I.

This scenario has me holding my current cards. This may not impress the current roster or fans, but it has the advantage of a "wait and see" to it. I don't think BOTs is going to hold the cards, so to speak. I think he will do something, whatever that may be. With the Salary Cap going up to $83 million next season, he may want to take some sort of calculated risk. With this a possibility, BOTS needs to communicate that he intends to be busy in the off-season to give the fans and the team the benefit of a strong reach for next year's team.

Scenario Three:

Sellers. While I hate to think that we're at that stage of thinking, we only do this if we fall flat on our collective faces the next 11 games. If so, we need to then trade Skinner for all that we can and then hope to re-sign him in the off season. And we need a real return on a Skinner trade. None of this ROR type of crappy trade or "wait till the last second" E. Kane type of trade where the return is minimal.

I think becoming sellers sends the wrong message to the fans and the team either way. If we totally screw up and say go 4 - 7 the next 11 games, then perhaps we do sell off some assets, but not much!

I've written a lot here. Sorry for the length of this Fan Post but I wanted to stir us up a bit. What would you do? What trades would your pursue for Scenario One? What would you like for BOTs to do?

Mine is a conservative approach for all three scenarios. I think this is most likely.

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.