What I Would Like To See Happen:
#1: The TRADE DEADLINE:
BFLO Boychuk -> COL Drew Helleson (RHD) and 2023 2nd
Trade COL the Boychuk Contract: Gives them $6M of LTIR relief, but only $1M of actual salary to pay out. Then they could add Giroux for essentially nothing – if Philly picks up 25% of his contract – and would not impact their current line-up. This would be a huge Return on Investment for a contract that the Sabres acquired for ‘future considerations.’ The deal would be similar to the Brett Seabrook trade from Chicago to Tampa. So something like:
BFLO Girgensons (50% retained) -> CAL conditional 2023 1st
Trade Girgensons (50% Retention): Sure, we all love Girgensons. The only guy who seemingly survived the post-Tank years with any shred of love for the game (at least while in BFLO), an effort guy, good PK’er and all hustle. But the Sabres’ PK has actually been just as good if not better without him, and they need to create some open spaces in the line-up for the kids coming up next season. Girgensons ideal coach is Darryl Sutter, who loves guys like 28. Having him play wing on the 3rd or 4th line and play with speed and aggression is perfect for Calgary, and the fact he’s got another year next season will be even more appealing since all their 4th line grinders are UFAs. With retention, he’s only $1.1M in Cap Hit. This is similar to the Goodrow trade.
BFLO Miller (33% retained) -> CAR 2022 3rd, 2024 4th
Trade Colin Miller (33% retained): BFLO has a bunch of expiring contract Defensemen. Miller seems to be the guy garnering the most attention – why, I’m not sure, as he’s the most expensive – but right-shot guys are in demand. One team who always loads up on the back-end at Deadline time is Carolina. And they have enough Cap Room to take on $2.6M that Miller – with retention – would bring. Given BFLO’s been fine during Miller’s absence, and Owen Power is likely on his way, this is another easy one.
Pysyk: 2 years @ $1.05M
Re-sign Mark Pysyk: He’s well-liked in the room, he’s been through BFLO twice now, and he seems to fit in Granato’s system. He doesn’t have to be great, and he doesn’t have to cost a lot. He’s the perfect fill-in guy.
BFLO 2023 3rd -> Hornqvist, Priskie (RHD), FLA 24 2nd
Use Cap Space to Your Advantage: BFLO has a ton of Cap Space. Teams are tight under pressure, and MAYBE the Cap goes up $1M…maybe. One team looking at a lot of money stacking up this off-season is Florida. Barkov goes up to $10M a year. Verhaege plusses up $3.5 million. The Keith Yandle buy-out will be + $3M. Someone’s going to pay Mason Marchment (at least +2.5M). And you lose your LTIR in Nutivaara. So a team already over the Cap will be adding $12.5M to their total, and only subtracting less than $5M. Enter BFLO.
Use All Your Draft Picks: I know. But they’ve already got the #1 Prospect Pool (according to the Athletic, anyways) in the NHL! Why do you want more? Because you can never have too many. We’ve learned the hard way. And adding another Top 10 choice, another couple of 1sts to grow your depth, and then take some shots later…you could come out of this Draft deep with young talent at every position. Don’t waste your shot.
Copp: 5 years @ $5.85M
Sign Andrew Copp: If I can go after one free agent that I think BFLO has a chance with, it’s Copp. He played for Granato at the US NTDP, he’s tough, physical, gritty, but can put up points and play all over the line-up card…Center, wing, top line, 4th line. Still relatively young for a free agent, he’s a leader that was always kind of a Captain-in-waiting in Winnipeg. Now that the Jets appear to be headed for a bit of a rebuild, things are in a bit of disarray. Maybe Copp hits the open market, and maybe the Sabres can convince him to sign…I’m thinking probably a $5.5-6M deal for 4-5-6 years would get it done. There are flashier players, players with bigger numbers. But I think this is the best fit. With Okposo coming off the books, you can afford him.
BFLO Olofsson -> LAK Matt Roy (RHD), Jacob Ingram
Trade Victor Olofsson: We shouldn’t be in the practice of shipping out talented players when the Sabres have so little talent. I get it. But more talent is coming, and they need spots. While I like Trader Vic, and think he could be a real contributor to the Sabres, I think he is, in some ways, redundant. A sniper on a team with Thompson, Quinn, and to some extent Peterka…with more potentially coming…might be superfluous. The Sabres also could use him to fill needs in other spots. The Kings have been rumored to be on the lookout for a Top 6 forward to add to their group. They also happen to have a glut of RHD in the organization. Might be a good trade partner?
OPENING NIGHT LINE-UP:
Tuch (4.75) – Thompson (1.4) – Skinner (9)
Copp (5.85) – Cozens (.925) – Quinn (.9)
Okposo (6) – Krebs (.9) – Peterka (.875)
Asplund (.825) – Mitts (2.5) – Hornqvist (5.3)
Hayden (.75) – R2 (.925)
Dahlin (6) – Roy (3.15)
Power (.925) – Joker (2.5)
Sammy (.925) – Bryson (1.8)
UPL (1.75) – Koskinen (4.5)
I think this is a playoff-caliber line-up, honestly. They have some veteran jam – Hornie, Okposo – the have some youthful skill – Quinn, JJP, Krebs, Power, UPL – they have some leadership – Copp, Tuch, Pysyk - and they have some guys that are taking the next step – Cozens, Mitts, Tage, Sammy, Joker.
Its those latter guys that are going to be the big part of the growth. IF Tage can replicate this season, IF Cozens, Krebs and Mitts can become 50-55P players, IF Sammy and Joker can get better in their own end…I think this team is a playoff-quality club.
Then it becomes about the goaltenders. They’ll be better…but how much better? That said, even with mediocre goaltending, I think this team finishes outside the bottom 10. For the first time in a decade plus.