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Mailbag: NHL Draft, Trades, and Expansion

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Time to answer some mail with the draft just one week away.

2021 NHL Draft Lottery Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

No introductions: lets dive into a quick mailbag before we dive into the Expansion draft, the NHL draft, and free agency.

A lot of what has been proposed for possible trades for the Sabres has included a goalie coming back (minus trades with Anaheim), so I do think it’s plausible that the plan will be to take a goalie back in a trade with Eichel and/or Reinhart.

However, using the protection on a newly acquired goalie in exchange for being paid to take on the salary could be an interesting proposition. Without giving up Eichel and/or Reinhart I think there are two teams that would like to move on from an expensive backup goalie in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and one team in Minnesota that needs to find a way to create cap space. Unfortunately, the Kings and the Wild don’t have an internal goalie worth promoting to the NHL so they’d have the added layer of needing a plan to sign a goalie in UFA.

However, DiPietro in Vancouver could be looked at as a future NHL backup. If the Canucks are going to look to create some space then Holtby’s 4.3 million dollar salary could be an option. He does have a four team no trade list and we could end up on it, but it’s the type of trade that could see us trade a late round pick for Holtby and a 2021 3rd round pick to facilitate the cap space. Is it likely? Probably not given that they’ve started shopping Nate Schmidt publicly as a solution to their cap woes, but if the Canucks are going to try to improve this offseason they’re going to need to clear out one of their 4-6 million dollar salaries.

Do you think buyouts signal an Eichel to the Wild trade?

Mythic_Picnic

The short answer: no.

Longer answer: They have 26 million in cap room right now. Evolving-Hockey has Fiala signing for a AAV of 6.1 million and Kaprizov signing for an AVV of 7.7 million. Add in Eichel’s 10 million and we’re already at 23 million dollars used with just 11 forwards and four defensemen under contract going into next year.

For an Eichel trade to work it would most likely center around Fiala, Victor Rask, and picks (I’d guess both 2021 firsts). They’re going to need the Rossi, Boldy, and Beckman contracts to stay relevant under their ELCs. I don’t think they have enough cap space to make a significant improvement from last year and then they’re going to have to shed even more salary the following year. Plus, from the Sabres side, that most likely won’t be the most attractive package offered. I like Fiala but he’d have to sign long term. Rask is a pending UFA, and both their picks are in the 20s of the draft.

I read that the Sabres didn’t ask Skinner to waive his NMC. Any possible reason why ?

-Wolfdoctor

Looks like we did ask and he did waive it!

How come you dislike Power so much?

Go Sabres Go!!!!!!!!

Oh boy. First off, perfectly fine with Power being the #1 pick for the Sabres. It’s not the pick I’d make, but I would admire the Sabres swinging on upside and a high ceiling type of player. I think I’ve said this countless times this year that I’m opposed to the narrative that has been a popular opinion in the scouting world about Power: that he’s a safe, two-way defender. I think it’s setting up for the narrative that he’s the “can’t miss” prospect. I think he’s most definitely an NHL defender, and could be a very good player in the offensive end at that. I just think there’s a lot to be developed in the defensive end that giving him the hype of “can’t miss” is setting everyone up for massive disappointment if it takes him awhile (or at all) to fix his glaring defensive issues.

If you’re building the team – what’s the ‘identity’?

Follow-up, who are you targeting from where that fits that identity? (could be drafts or trades, not necessarily likely but targets at least)

TEMSON

Transition, Skill, Speed, and Toughness.

I want to get the puck, control the puck, force teams to dump it in or out of the zone, and then ram it back down their throat. Constant pressure on the puck in the forecheck, and aggressive in the defensive zone. A constant blend of skill, aggressive pressure to force turnovers, and the ability to move the puck up and down the ice.

Examples in the draft:

  • Centers I think play a great transition game and are 200ft players: Beniers, Raty, Svechkov, McTavish, Coronato, Rosen, Duke, Canonica, Stenman
  • Skilled, scoring Wingers who could do well in transition: Eklund, Lysell, Kent Johnson, Stankoven, Samoskevich, Sillinger
  • F1 Forechecking and aggressive/physical wingers who would excel as transition passengers: Robertsson, Olausson, L’Heureux, Othmann, Koivunen, Tschigerl, Stromgren, Boucher
  • Offensive leaning D: Hughes, Clarke, Power, Morrow, Zellweger, Brent Johnson, Peart, Ceulemans
  • Defensive, transition D: Edvinsson, Lambos, Svozil, Chayka, Grushnikov, Buium, Martin, Ervasti

In UFA my targets are: Danault, Alec Martinez, Hyman, Coleman, Schwartz, Mike Reilly, Goodrow, Cizikas, Kuraly, Perreault, David Savard.

In general though: skill is harder to acquire than grit. You can find the right grit players in UFA and an overpay isn’t going to be a detriment to your cap. It’s why I take ridiculous homerun swings in the late rounds on smaller players with skill rather than the hulking 6’4 player who projects to the bottom of the lineup.

What do you think of Fabian Lysell

Go Sabres Go!!!!!!!!!

Personally I love the way he plays and he’s the fifth prospect in my rankings. There isn’t a player in this draft that has his skill+pace, and his upside is among the highest in the draft class. He forced his way out of his club team in Sweden in the beginning of the year (they wouldn’t move him to the SHL), he’s been left off international rosters including recently for u20 Summer Showcase (he was then put on the team when Eklund dropped off), so there’s some attitude rumors/concerns about the player.

In terms of what he does on the ice all he has to really figure out is how to use his speed in an offensive cycle game more effectively (everything he does he tries to do at top speed) and get stronger on his feet.

There’s been speculation two Sabres could be on the move together – where could that be advantageous to the Sabres?

Temson

When I think about this I think it’s going to be about retention of salary in adding Ristolainen to the potential Eichel/Reinhart deal.

I’m a terrible fake trader, but one of the things I look at with potential partners that have been linked in these trades is that a lot of them are going to need a cheap fix on the backend. If we retain 50% of Ristolainen’s salary I think it ends up freeing up assets to come our way. The obvious ones here are Minnesota who is going to be in cap hell and needs cheap assets if we were to trade with them and Anaheim who could use an extra RHD. I think Ristolainen with salary retained warrants at least a B level prospect and a mid-round pick by itself, but attached to an Eichel/Reinhart could be the difference between another 1st round pick being added or a significant prospect coming back.

The dark horse to me is attaching Olofsson to a trade with Eichel because I think his point production is inflated because of the power play and he struggles in transition 5v5. There’s no one to carry him in 5v5 anymore so putting his low, cost-controlled salary in a trade (when I don’t think his strengths are as exciting as they are with Reinhart and Eichel) could see bigger returns.

Do you see Adams using all 200 picks he has this draft

Jg funk

No. There will most definitely be picks traded for a player and/or coupled together to move up to get a player. One consistent theme between Adams and Botterill is that they’ll move the later picks to move up in the late rounds to get a player they want instead of taking multiple lottery picks. I expect the Sabres to make about 7 or 8 of their 10 picks right now, and if other picks are added I think that you’re going to see some of them used in similar fashion.

Do we finish next season in last place? If not, who do you think finishes lower?

by Firsttime_Longtime on Jul 13, 2021 | 4:25 PM

It’s either us or Detroit. That’s what I’d say right at this moment. Detroit seemingly has their entire forward group going to free agency this summer, so how aggressive Yzerman will be will determine the odds. If we lose Eichel and Reinhart I’d still prefer our roster over theirs currently, but it’s pretty dang close.

If the Sabres end up with an extra pick in the first, assuming the pick is top 15 who would you pick and bottom 15 who would you pick?

Follow up, where is the cutoff where it gets to the point where you’d rather a 2022 pick (presumably bottom half of the round) instead of a 2021 pick? Like I imagine 2021 3rd overall is better than 2022 at 16 or lower. Where is the tipping point?

Temson

I’d say that my order of prospects if we acquired another first round pick (assuming we picked Power first overall) would be: Beniers/Eklund/Clarke/Lysell/Hughes/Johnson for the top 10, Lysell/Raty/Svechkov/Coronato/Sillinger for the 10-20 range, and then Stankoven/Samoskevich/Robertsson/Morrow/Rosen/Olausson/Duke for the 20-30 range. It’s not entirely lining up with my rankings, but that’s more because I’m very certain I’ll be able to land one of Stankoven/Samoskevich/Robertsson at 32 and the center depth of this draft has a steep drop after the first 20 picks in this draft.

The second part to your question is so hard as I’ve just started digging into the 2022 class over the course of the past two weeks. The top end of the class is much better in 2022, and there’s far more players on my list for 2022 to start with than 2021. But the 2021 class kind of fizzled after some hype. Carson Lambos was a consensus top 10 pick, and oftentimes a top 5 pick, before this year started and now he’s sitting at the back of my first round. Aatu Raty is almost universally a top 20 pick and not the #1 pick like he was to start the draft cycle. The USNTDP really failed to produce anyone besides Hughes after their defensemen had a lot of hype to start the year. It was a down year for Russia, the OHL, and Finland. So the draft eligible season of 2022 is tough to project...but if you made me do it: I’d say from pick 21 onward I think 2022 might be the better choice.

I think there’s going to be a lot of value in 2021 at the top end of the 2nd round. All of Stankoven/Samoskevich/Robertsson/Morrow/Rosen/Olausson/Duke/Svozil/Koivunen/Martino who I have in my first round could be there in the second round.

I get the sense many fans would like to trade back in the draft (between 3-7). What are realistic returns from each team?

JeffBeck

I doubt they trade back as I think they’re expecting to get two top 10 picks after an Eichel/Reinhart trade. But I’ll play along.

Seattle and Anaheim: Swap picks+3rd round pick.

New Jersey: #4 and #28

Columbus: #5 and #24

Detroit: #6 and #22

San Jose: #7, Ozzy Wiesblatt, 2022 1st

I think if you trade back you don’t want to fall past 3. At least then you get your choice between the forwards (Beniers/Eklund) and defensemen left in the draft. The top is so wide open that I don’t think it’s going to cost a lot to move it, especially since when you trade with those teams you have an idea of who they’re taking before you trade. After pick 3 you’re going to start drafting for value on who falls to you, and most NHL teams don’t think in terms of scooping up value but rather getting the player they’re targeting. It’s going to cost more to get the player you’re targeting and also have us move down.

Is there any way you can think of to target a team that might give us a realistic shot at a lotto win in 2022 or 2023? Or are all trades basically guaranteed to be protected against that eventuality after OTT/SJ?

TEMSON

I would say my targets would be the Kings, Canucks, Flames, and Ducks. If they were to protect a 2022 pick for the lotto to become unconditional in 2023 I could see all of them being in the same boat in 2023 if the bottom falls out.

Truthfully I think the best chance will be trading an asset for a 2023 first at the trade deadline this year.

Who would you protect in the Sabres Expansion Draft

Brassmaster

Forwards: Eichel/Reinhart/Thompson/Mittelstadt/Bjork/Asplund/Olofsson

Defense: Dahlin/Jokiharju/Borgen