This episode of GM For A Day is brought to you by TSN. (Just something I thought might generate some chatter)
Draft, Day One:
JD: Welcome to the NHL Draft! As we ramp up, some teams have already begun making moves to reshape their team for the state of the season in November. Elliott, what are you hearing down on the Draft floor?
EF: Thanks James. One of the teams we expect to be fairly active this weekend, the Buffalo Sabres, have gotten things started with an interesting deal with GM Jason Botterill’s old boss, Jim Rutherford, in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been looking for a defender and a wing, but are facing some serious cap issues, while the Sabres happen to have a large amount of space available to them. So they’ve sent Brandon Montour, one of their glut of NHL-caliber blueliners, to Pittsburgh.
TRADE: BFLO Brandon Montour -> PIT Jared McCann, Casey DeSmith
JD: Pierre, thoughts on this move?
PL: Well, James, we knew the Penguins were shopping a few guys to create the cap space needed to fit Jake Guentzel under the Cap and re-sign one or both of their goaltenders, and the Sabres were on that list. This seems like a good fit. Montour is an RFA, but the Penguins have a hole on the right side since they expect to lose Justin Schultz to free agency, and they can likely sign Montour for cheaper. For Buffalo, they add an established back-up goaltender whose had a couple of really solid runs at the NHL level in the last few years, someone Jason Botterill is very familiar with, while adding some center depth as well behind Jack Eichel. The versatile McCann has some decent size, a bit shot and excellent speed, but he is an RFA and the Penguins might have been unable to sign him.
BM: That’s right. Nick Bjugstad is coming off two major injuries, including a back injury, that may keep him out long-term. Possibly, they could use him as LTIR to spend over the Cap. And with the loss of Schultz, as you mentioned, that should give Pittsburgh enough room to fit Guentzel back into the line-up and have nearly enough to give Matt Murray a bump-up on his deal, which is really their focus. Without having to hang on to DeSmith and McCann, the Pens should also have enough space to sign Tristan Jarry to a bridge deal and sign Montour. But Buffalo now will have to deal with a crowded goal crease, with Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton and DeSmith with prize prospect Ukko Luukkonen waiting in the wings. McCann can play on the wing, but he’s more comfortable at center, and that’s where Buffalo will likely play him.
(fast forward an hour or two)
GB: With the 7th selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, Buffalo selects: Marco Rossi, center, Ottawa 67’s.
1#7: Marco Rossi, C, OHL
CB: Buffalo just landed themselves a whale of a player, guys. Rossi can do it all on both ends, he’s pro-ready, you can play him in the middle or on the wings, and he’s going to produce. Maybe the smartest player in the Draft, he might be on the small side, but he can do everything you ask him to and more.
SC: That’s right Craig. And when you think about what Buffalo has in Dylan Cozens, being able to add both of those players – potentially as early as next season – really upgrades their talent level in the Top 9. Rossi’s a great fit for them. He’s quick, smart, great in the dot, 2-way player and an elite passer. You’re really looking at a murderer’s row on the power play with Jack Eichel, Rossi, Rasmus Dahlin and Victor Olofsson.
Draft, Day Two:
BD: We have a trade to announce. Buffalo has traded their 2nd round pick, #38, to Detroit for picks #51 and 60.
TRADE: BFLO #38 -> DET #51, #60
2#51: Daniel Torgersson, W, SWE
2#60: Luke Evangelista, RW, OHL
4#100: Brock Faber, RHD, US NTDP
5#131: Isak Garfve, C/W, SWE
7#193: Karri Aho, LHD, FIN
7#208 (DAL): Noah Ellis, RHD, USHL
JD: So, another Draft in the books. Aside from the obvious, any teams, or selections, that stood out to you, Lawts?
BL: You know James, I like what Buffalo did. You knew they had to add some talent to their forward ranks, and they did that while adding an extra pick in the process. Rossi is almost a guaranteed Day One starter. They added size and skill with the big Swedish wing Torgersson but I think where they’re really going to be happy with this group is with Evangelista, who I really like and thought could’ve snuck into the 1st round. He’s really smart and can play all over, and getting coached up by the Hunters in London tends to turn out pro-ready players. Faber, the D-Man from the NTDP who could be a real find as a transition defender. All in all, its not as glamorous as Montreal or Ottawa with all their picks, but a really solid group there.
FREE AGENT FRENZY:
JD: We’re here on Day Two of Free Agent Frenzy, and with some of the biggest names off the board yesterday afternoon, we’re on to some of the players who won’t command a huge contract, but are often essential to regular season, and sometimes playoff, success. First, a few trades to get to from last night. Elliott?
TRADE: BFLO McCabe, Laaksonen -> NJ Pavel Zacha
EF: Thanks James. One of the deals we saw last night was from Jason Botterill as the Sabres continue remaking their roster, as do Tom Fitzgerald and the Devils. Buffalo sent veteran defenseman Jake McCabe, who has one year left on his deal, and D-Man prospect Oskari Laaksonen to the Devils for former 6th overall selection Pavel Zacha…
JD: So, Dregs?
DD: If you look closely, you’ll notice BFLO has remade their goaltending situation and their center group behind Jack Eichel. They’ve now got a speedy Jared McCann who could possibly play on the 2nd line, and Zacha on the 3rd line, which also gives you a lot of size. And that’s without factoring in Marco Rossi, Dylan Cozens or Casey Mittelstadt. New Jersey desperately needs defense both at the NHL level and within the organization, but the Sabres have needed help down the middle for a while. And Zacha’s very good on the PK, which is an area the Sabres need to address, their penalty kill was one of the worst in the League last season…
SIGN: Jesper Fast -> 3y @ $3.75M
EF: Hey guys, another name a few teams were sniffing around is off the Board. Sabres have signed former Ranger Jesper Fast for 3 years at $3.75M. He’s a guy who can play all over the line-up, he’s great on the PK, lives up to his name as he can really fly, and is still relatively young at 28. Some might see this as an over-pay, but Fast is a really smart add for the Sabres who gives them a lot of versatility up front.
SIGN: Carson Soucy -> 2y @ $2.5M
CJ: As Elliott said earlier today, Buffalo continues to be active on Day 2. They’ve just signed Minnesota D-Man Carson Soucy to a 2-year, $2.5M AAV deal. Soucy had a bit of a breakout half-a-year for the Wild, played a very respectable 55 games in what amounts to his rookie year. He’s big at 6’5, 215#, very strong and is accomplished defensively and on the PK, but also chipped in 7 goals. If there’s some more to give, BFLO will have to find it, but they aren’t making a long-term investment.
TRADE: Hutton -> CHI 2021 5th
EF: In a move we’ve been expecting, Buffalo has addressed their crowded crease after having acquired Casey DeSmith early this off-season. Chicago, who is without any NHL-caliber goaltending at the moment, has made the move to add Carter Hutton to their group. Hutton, who had a great start but a rough finish to his second season ins Buffalo, is heading back to the division where he made his name with Nashville and St. Louis. The Sabres get a pick in next year’s Draft in return.
SIGN: Tom Kuhnackl -> 1y @ .8M
Olofsson -> 4y @ $4.1M
Kahun -> 2y @ $2.6M
Reinhart -> 5y @ $6.9M
Lazar -> 1y @ .895M
Pilut -> 2y @ $1.25M
Jokiharju -> 5y @ $3.8M
CAP: $78.5M ($81M CAP CEILING)
Olofsson (4.1) – Eichel (10) – Kahun (2.6)
Skinner (9) – McCann (3.9) – Rino (6.9)
MoJo (4.5) – Zacha (2.25) – Fast (3.75)
Asplund (.85) – Cozens (.925) – Okposo (6)
[Lazar (.895) – Kuhnackl (.8)]
Dahlin (.925) – Joker (.925)
Soucy (2.5) – Miller (3.9)
Pilut (1.25) –– Risto (5.4)
Ullmark (2.8) – DeSmith (1.25)
Elie - Mitts – Thompson
Smith – Dea – J Olofsson
Pekar – Malone – Leier
Murray – Porter – Cornel
Biro - D Smith – DiPietro
Bryson – Borgen
Sammy – Fitz
Gilmour – MacWilliam
Hickey – Paetsch
UPL – JJ
LD: Bryson/Samuelsson/Ry Johnson/Aho/Worge Kreu/Cronholm