Sunday, June 4, 2017

Let's Make A Deal? George McPhee & Jason Botterill talk

Published by, 6-3-2017

Reports from the Buffalo media have the Sabres and the Las Vegas Golden Knights talking expansion draft. According to John Vogl of the Buffalo News, Knights' general manager George McPhee had a conversation with new Sabres GM Jason Botterill and said "that [it] went really well,” McPhee who was at  HarborCenter in downtown Buffalo for the NHL Scouting Combine, has a lot on his plate as he's laying the foundation for how he will build the expansion Knights.

Each NHL team will lose a player to Las Vegas and must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. June 17, the Knights will finalize their choices by June 20 and the results will be announced on June21 during the NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.

McPhee has been busy making contact with GM's around the league as both sides get a feel for that the other may be interested in. McPhee told the media today that he expects for things to "pick up next week" as the deadline for submitting protected lists is getting closer.

Botterill took over as the Sabres GM on May 11 and he inherited an immense workload from previous GM Tim Murray. Amongst the things on Botterill's plate is finding head coaches for the Sabres, the AHL Rochester Americans and the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones after their affiliation with Buffalo was announced. The NHL Entry Draft is in late June and during his first full week on the job, Botterill huddled with this scouts in a dual "get-to-know-them/get-to-know-their-prospect -lists" week. Also on tap are 20 or so free agents to decide upon and, of course, the upcoming expansion draft. McPhee was certainly aware of  what Botterill has on his plate saying, "He’s certainly had a lot going on as well.”

WGR Sabres beat writer Paul Hamilton tweeted that McPhee "expects to [talk to Botterill] again soon." Hamilton also said to be on the lookout for trades tweeting that McPhee "also said there could be trades with teams in the next few days."

The Sabres have an interesting scenario in that their protected list is pretty solid and they won't need to expose a highly coveted player to the draft. There will be teams like Nashville and Anaheim who may be in that situation and McPhee, according to Hamilton said, "There are teams that really want to protect some people and they’re willing to pay a pretty fair price to get us to lay off people."

For the Sabres, "laying off people" isn't really the ideal, getting the Knights to take on an undesirable contract would be more to Buffalo's liking. The Sabres have four players making close to $4 million or more who's production hasn't warranted that kind of salary. Hamilton said the Vegas GM has the same approach there as well, "McPhee also confirmed they're willing to take on contracts and probably will," said Hamilton. "He said teams will [have] to pay a high price to keep teams together."

McPhee was already in touch with former Sabres GM Tim Murray once the expansion draft rules were laid out. Murray made a trade with Washington in 2014 when McPhee was GM of the Capitals. Murray took on a player in Rostislav Klesla who had a $3.975 million cap hit and had no intentions of playing for the Sabres. If ever there was a time for McPhee to return the favor, the expansion draft would have been it. However, Murray is no longer Buffalo's GM.

The Sabres have some extra draft picks in their arsenal with which to entice McPhee to take on an undesirable contract. They have Minnesota's in the second round (54th overall) and Washington's in the third (89th.) Perhaps they can bring things full circle with the Knights taking an undesired contract with the 89th pick as an enticement.

Just a thought.

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