Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-27-2017
In addition to bring two assistant general managers aboard in Randy Sexton, who will be the GM in Rochester, and Steve Greeley the Sabres made some player moves.
But before we get to that, a tip of the hat to Dave Andreychuk who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday. The veteran of 23 NHL seasons heads to hockey immortality in a November 13 ceremony with the rest of the 2017 class--Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi along with Danielle Goyette and two in the builders category, Buffalo native and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Clare Drake.
Andreychuk spent 11 season with the Sabres using his long reach and big body go amass 368 goals and 904 points in 837 games. He would go on to total 648 goals and 1338 points in his 1639 game NHL career. The 640 goals ranks 14th all time and before his induction, he was the only one of the top-15 goals scores not in the HOF.
Although third on the all-time goals list for left wings, a good chunk of those goals came on the powerplay which may have kept him out of the Hall this long. Winning the Stanley Cup as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2003 helped Andreychuk's chances of getting inducted but it still took him nine years to get in.
His days in Buffalo were marked by individual success but much like team mates Phil Housley and Tom Barrasso, lack of team success lead to a divided fan base when it came to his accomplishments. I was of the "meh" crowd who teetered on whether or not he was a Hall of Famer, but upon hearing about his induction I thought to myself, "Good for him."
The Sabres are still in need of a defenseman to anchor the left side of the top-pairing. It's a difficult acquisition to make as they're not readily available and if they are, it will cost a bundle to land one. And by the looks of it, new GM Jason Botterill isn't going to pay the price even if one were available. I lieu of that, Botterill continues to add depth to the blueline.
Yesterday it was announced that the Sabres re-signed veteran d-man Taylor Fedun to a two year deal that will pay him $650k/year, according to CapFriendly. Fedun's Rochester Americans salary is $300k.
Since coming on board May 11, Botterill signed free agent Russian defenseman Victor Antipin, whom the previous regime set the table for, and traded for Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu.
With the signing of Fedun the depth chart looks something like this:
Jake McCabe-Rasmus Ristolainen
Antipin-Fedun-Josh Gorges-Justin Falk-Casey Nelson
Rookie Brendan Guhle is the wild card here. His athleticism, skill, skating and puck movement place him above the bottom-five listed above talent-wise, but Botterill and Co. may feel more comfortable having him start the year in Rochester.
The Sabres may carry eight defensemen or they may carry seven, but in either case, as of right now Nelson looks to be the odd man out unless there's a trade. Falk was re-signed in February and would be a strong veteran presence in Rochester were he not on the Sabres roster.
Speaking of defense, 2012 seventh round pick (193rd overall,) Brady Austin was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Sabres which means he's an unrestricted free agent. The 6'4" 225 lb. rearguard, who is surprisingly mobile for a man his size, can still be resigned by the Sabres at a lower number that his $635K NHL salary from last season or he could be signed to a minor league contract with the Rochester Americans if Botterill's so inclined.
With Housley as the new head coach and Botterill coming from a Pittsburgh Penguins organization that leaned heavily on puck-movers on the back end, it's not too surprising that Austin wasn't qualified. The Bobcaygeon, Ontario native struggled in Rochester for much of his pro career with the Amerks but looked pretty solid in a five-game stint late last season with the Sabres and perhaps Botterill and Amerks GM Sexton may want to see more of Austin, but not at that price. The duo will need to rebuild a flawed Rochester club from top to bottom.
Should Guhle end up in Rochester, they have the makings of a pretty solid defense-core when you add in one or both of Falk and Fedun along with Nelson, who made great strides in the latter part of the season. They'll also be joined by first year pro Devante Stephens.
Others in the mix at this juncture could be Brycen Martin, who's signed for two more seasons and Anthony Florentino who had a five-game audition with Rochester on a minor league contract.
Forwards Jean Dupuy and Justin Kea also were not qualified.
The Sabres tendered qualifying offers to:
G, Robin Lehner--$3.15M
F, Marcus Foligno--$2.25M
F, Zemgus Girgensons--$1.15M
D, Nathan Beaulieu--$1M
F, Johan Larsson--$997k
F, Evan Rodrigues--$787k