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Buffalo Sabres and the Expansion Draft: Your move Kevyn Adams, what next?

The time is nigh. Expansion lists become public on Sunday. Rosters freeze on Saturday. The votes are in. 30% of DBTB voters (aka our advanced analytics department) thinks Zemgus Girgensons is the best F asset available on the Buffalo Sabres. 41% think Colin Miller is the best D asset available. As GM Kevyn Adams, are you OK with the F/D/G available? Or do you make a trade to protect one (or more) exposed assets?

What player do the Kraken take?

Zemgus Girgensons 202
Jeff Skinner (#2 selection) 151
Colin Miller 386
William Borgen (#2 selection) 354
Establish a trade to protect one or more of the exposed player(s) 144
Out of left field: Select a goalie from the Sabres 18

My protection list: 7-3-1

F: Eichel, Reinhart, Olofsson, Mittelstadt, Thompson, Asplund, Bjork

D: Dahlin, Jokiharju, Ristolainen

G: Ullmark

As GM Ron Francis, I’m happy Jeff Skinner is exposed. Rumors out of Philadelphia is that James Van Riemsdyk could be exposed. JVR & Skinner are a solid duo to a brand new franchise, if you ask me.  To go along with Skinner and JVR, some center options look to be Kerfoot, Gourde (Johnson?), Henrique, and Zucker/McCann which showcases a not-so-bad grouping of available center talent out there. Some other winger options include Donskoi and Foegele, which to me starts to look as a not so bad top9 for the Kraken. Is selecting one of  Girgensons/Miller/Risto/Borgen better than Skinner? Not to me

There is a salary cap concern with Jeff and JVR. Together, they combine to eat 16 million. With that in mind, JVR is 32 years old and if the Kraken are watching Jeff’s production, has significantly dipped in the last two seasons but still looks to be far from the dreadful aging curve that JVR is nearing. Is that enough to warrant fear for the Kraken? Who knows, but we do know that Vegas ate a lot of salary via trades to select less attractive assets. There was four players that amassed a mighty 8 games for the Knights, totaling a mighty 18.1 million dollar cap hit before their respective contracts ended. We’ll see on Sunday how Francis values cap in relation to starting players versus LTIR style players.

As GM Kevyn Adams, I’m not happy if I think the Kraken like Jeff the most from us. That contract is in no shape favorable to the Sabres now that we’re in a flat cap period. But, neither is losing even more skill in your lineup during this off season. If we look back at the Murray and Botterill tenures, adding skill was expensive for Murray (ROR, Evander Kane) and not worth it for Botterill. The offseason is highly suggesting that Eichel and Reinhart would not be playing for the Sabres this season and our only goalie in Linus Ullmark is an UFA without a contract. Those 3 players amount to 20 million big ones, with Ristolainen and Miller off the books next off season for another 8 million. The Sabres have shown that even in bad seasons, they’re not afraid to spend, but adding players to fill in that gap would be a significant move in trades and free agency.

If we look at Jeff statistically, he was the same guy he was in his first season here as he has been in the last two. He’s your down low stud that’s going to open up the zone for you and keep the fancy stats in your favor. I would also bet on Jeff being a very good compliment to either Casey or Dylan, since his history in Carolina was riddled with stellar seasons next to not-so-offensively-talented centers. How Skinner is viewed by Kevyn and new head coach Don Granato als matters, as I wouldn’t want to start a rift between the head coach and management in year 1 together.

Before the Kraken make their official selection, I’m on the phone seeing what it would take to take the next man after Skinner. I’m fine with anyone else being taken, but the value judgment with the Kraken’s offer matters due to our still limited prospect pool.

Resources used for “possible” selections:

Evolving Hockey (statistical perspective)

The Athletic (3 writer “mock” style)

Talking Points