The rumblings have seemingly quieted down from the offices over at the KeyBank Center, following Jason Botterill’s recent surge of “roster surgery”.
While some might chide the tongue-in-cheek nature of the aforementioned term, Botterill truly has made big changes in Buffalo this offseason.
As of July 17, according to CapFriendly, the Buffalo Sabres have 21 players on the National Hockey League roster.
CapFriendly reports the Sabres projected cap space at $5,115,476 - this does not include restricted free agents Remi Elie, Jake McCabe, Evan Rodrigues and Linus Ullmark.
The 21 player roster also does not currently include forwards Victor Olofsson, C.J. Smith, Arttu Ruotsalainen, Tage Thompson and Rasmus Asplund along with defensemen Lawrence Pilut, Henri Jokiharju and Will Borgen.
All of those aforementioned players are important because they are expected to fight for spots in training camp.
Why is this all important, you ask? The answer is simple.
Something has to give - there still is another shoe to drop. This leaves the ball in Jason Botterill’s court.
A few of our writers have given their thoughts on what Botterill needs to do next:
The most glaring item still on the agenda involves purging the logjams on defense, and the bottom-six. Unless the organization plans on sending NHL-capable youngsters back to Rochester unnecessarily, then there’s still a lot to be done in that regard. This of course, indirectly relates to addressing an existing hole in the top-six (could be a C or RW), where a player like Ristolainen could be dealt in order to both relieve the defensive logjam, and acquire reinforcements up front.
I think the most important thing is somehow flipping a defenseman for a top six forward. Risto is the obvious choice, but maybe McCabe in a package will get it done. I see those two as the most desired by another team that can be parted with.I think much of the “dead-weight” attributing to the logjam at forward and defense will kind of take care of itself, as many of those contracts expire after this season. These players can easily be waived and/or provide depth within the organization for a year, which will be a positive if competition for spots is truly based on merit and not just experience.
It’s a logjam on defense and it´s a logjam on the left wing and somewhat down the middle even if a true 2nd line center is missing. The offensive part of the logjam I´m sure will solve itself come camp and something tells me that Botterill will find a way to move Sobotka, whether it’s via trade or waivers or contract termination.The logjam on defense is the most glaring issue to solve, and there should be enough of trade partners to find a deal to open up space and to strengthen the forward group. Trade Ristolainen is the obvious answer and the one who should fetch the best return, but Jake McCabe could be another one to trade.
DECIDE. Botterill has spent the summer collecting players like pokémon - which has been fun to watch, for sure. But a good trainer...er...GM knows that it’s quality over quantity. A lengthy list of pretty good players is just that - a list. Botterill needs to decide who is an actual fit and who is taking up roster space. And a second line center. Trade six of these superfluous defenders for one good 2C, please for the love of Mewtwo.
The focus remains on the defensive side of the ice and rightfully so. The blueline bloat will figure itself out -whether or not that means waiving, trading or demoting eligible players, the worry there is limited right now. Offensively, my focus is right there. We saw last season that Casey Mittelstadt was ready for professional hockey but by no means ready to carry weight as a second-line center. Marcus Johansson has been signed and some believe he might line up as the second-line center, but a large improvement at that position would be ideal before October rolls around.