Regardless of whom you ask, it appears as if the first day of unrestricted free agency went exactly according to plan for the Buffalo Sabres.
By the time Jason Botterill spoke to the media after 2 PM, four signings had already been made official.
Goaltender Andrew Hammond, forward Curtis Lazar, Jean-Sebastian Dea and defenseman John Gilmour were all unrestricted adds this afternoon.
All four players will provide solid depth for the Sabres but also will likely spend the bulk of their time representing the Rochester Americans in the AHL.
The one move of the day that affected the main roster came through a trade.
Forward Jimmy Vesey returned to the organization, after the Sabres sent a third-round pick over to the New York Rangers.
“It’s crazy how much things can change in three years, but I’m pumped to be on the team,” Vesey told local media.
With one-year remaining on his deal, Vesey can use the Sabres as a springboard into unrestricted free agency.
As for Buffalo, they feel that a third-round pick is not a bad gamble for a player who has averaged a little over 16 goals a season.
Jason Botterill also made sure to point out Vesey’s prowess for scoring at even-strength.
“The thing that really stands out for us is his ability to score at even strength,” Botterill said.
For the record, 43 of Vesey’s 50 career goals have come 5-on-5.
For a team that lacks middle-six scoring, Vesey’s presence should help resolve some of the pressure.
As for the remainder of free agency, it appears that the Sabres focus will be shifting elsewhere.
Jason Botterill on free agency - It's an interesting period. We were certainly aggressive. We keyed in a couple forwards, now we turn our attention to the trade market. #Sabres— WGR 550 (@WGR550) July 1, 2019
Botterill did make mention that he believes the team can continue to make positive additions to their top nine but did not go further than that.
Judging by what we saw last offseason with Jeff Skinner, Botterill is always working the phones and looking for a deal.
As for other topics that Botterill spoke to, the team is still open to bringing back Jason Pominville under the right circumstances:
Botterill on Pominville: “There is upmost respect from our organization and me personally. I did speak with him — if there was a case where there wasn’t room they’d let him know. Added if Pommer was going to another team he’d inform #Sabres @news4buffalo— Nick Filipowski (@NEWS4_NICK) July 1, 2019
Also, Botterill danced around any Rasmus Ristolainen trade talk questions:
"We're always having trade discussions and discussions on improving our team ... It's probably going to continue to happen throughout the summer. ... There's still a long time until we play our first game." - Jason Botterill— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) July 1, 2019
With a little over three months to go before the regular season opener, many things can change but it looks like we have a clearer idea of what the 2019-20 Buffalo Sabres will look like.