Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-26-2017
The Buffalo Sabres announced today that they've hired Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley as assistant general managers. Sexton, who had been with the Pittsburgh Penguins for seven seasons, the last two as the Pens director of amateur scouting, will also be the GM of the Rochester Americans.
Buffalo GM Jason Botterill spent the last seven years working with Sexton and had this to say in a release: "Randy and I developed a positive working relationship during our time in Pittsburgh and I think his experience and insight will be advantageous for our front office."
Greeley was the assistant director of player personnel with the New York Rangers for the last two seasons. Said Botterill of him, "In Steve, we have hired a talented hockey executive who will offer unique insight to our organization.
"They both have experience at all levels of the game and we think they will be valuable assets for the Buffalo Sabres moving forward."
It's into the fire for all three, plus the rest of the staff as the July 1 free agent signing period is getting pretty close. First on the docket, however, will be qualifying offers to some restricted free agents. Buffalo has until 5:00 p.m. today to extend qualifying offers to a group of nine RFA's in order to retain their negotiating rights. A player can accept or reject a qualifying offer and in the case of the latter they'll still have their rights retained by said team. If they are not qualified, they become unrestricted free agents.
According to CapFriendly.com, the Buffalo has nine players in that boat and one could expect that nearly all will be qualified. Here's the player list with last year's salary ( ) and why the Sabres may or may not make an offer to said player :
G, Robin Lehner ($2.25M)
Lehner was Buffalo's starter last season. He appeared in 59 games finishing with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 GAA and .920 Sv%. with two shutouts. Heading into the season there were durability/injury questions with Lehner as he'd never had more than 36 appearances in one season. Lehner effectively put that to rest and he also had some remarkable games during the season, however those remarkable games were countered by some duds along the way. And then there was the shootout. Lehner went 0-4 in the skills competition and failed to stop a single shooter in eight attempts. Inconsistencies and an epic shootout fail aren't enough to show him the door by any stretch of the imagination but it maybe enough to keep him from getting a long-term deal.
F, Marcus Foligno ($2.25M)
One need only look at what the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins did when they acquired burly forward Ryan Reaves from the St. Louis Blues late last week. The enforcer role isn't officially dead but the days of John Scott are long gone and teams may feel the need to have a legit fourth-liner in that role. Marcus Foligno is a better scorer than Reaves and although a lesser fighter he is able to patrol the ice to a degree. Foligno is worthy of a third-line role next season on Buffalo. His career-high 13 goals last season was a result of skating along side Jack Eichel for long stretches but he's also played very well along side Johan Larsson and Brian Gionta. In his last four full seasons with the Sabres he's averaged about nine goals and 12 assists. Paying a player $2.25M for 23 points might be a little high, but he should get qualified and probably will be signed to a number very close to that for the upcoming season.
F, Zemgus Girgensons ($1.15M)
Girgensons is the poster-boy for the disconnect between players and former head coach Dan Bylsma. Early into Bylsma's short-lived, two year tenure in Buffalo Girgensons, according to the media, was at center ice with his new coach in a rather long, vociferous discussion. What was said hasn't been revealed but the results for Girgensons in his two years under Bylsma is pretty ugly--14 goals, 20 assists in 146 games. Girgensons may be settling into a hard-checking/defensive career that will probably net him some decent numbers once he settles in. A qualifying offer and another one-year "show-me" season under a new head coach could be in the offing for him in Buffalo.
D, Nathan Beaulieu ($1M)
You could bet the farm that Beaulieu will be qualified. The Sabres just traded for him and it looks as if the 6'2" 205 lb. lefty starts out his career in Buffalo in the top-four. With Beaulieu it's not a matter of "if" he'll be qualified, but more like what will the dollars and term be on a multi-year deal after they do so.
F, Johan Larsson ($950k)
An tough injury cut short what was shaping up to be a pretty good season for Larsson. He'd been clicking very well with then Sabres captain Brian Gionta on the third line and finished with 11 points (6g+5a) in 36 games. When all's said and done, if the Sabres can put together a playoff team in the near future, Larsson would be an excellent fourth-line center to have around. And they should keep him around by qualifying him this year.
F, Evan Rodrigues ($750k)
Rodrigues just finished his two-year entry-level deal after being signed out of Boston University. He put up grand numbers for the Terriers while riding shotgun on Eichel's wing at BU and has been slowly acclimating to the pro game. Rodrigues has the skills and has shown versatility as he was moved from wing to center and never missed a beat. As a measure of his growth, in his first season with Rochester he had nine goals and 21 assists in 72 games. A year later he had the exact same 30 points (9+21) in only 48 games while also going from a minus-15 his rookie pro season to a minus-2 last season for the Amerks. And he didn't look out of place in Buffalo either scoring eight points (5+3) in 32 games. With the way he plays the game using quickness, smarts and skill, methinks Rodrigues might be a Jason Botterill type of player.
F, Jean Dupuy ($600k)
The 6'1" 207 lb. Dupuy was signed by former GM Tim Murray out of the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 21. He got off to a grand start in Rochester with thoughts that he may someday use his size, speed and grittiness to make it to Buffalo in an energy role. However, he hasn't done much since. Maybe it was him, maybe it was the Amerks, or maybe it was a break in the developmental chain, but as of now Dupuy is on the cusp of a QO. He still has potential for Rochester, and the Amerks will need players, so he may get the offer But Dupuy seems to be a 50/50 proposition at this point.
F, Justin Kea ($575)
Things have not gone well for the former third round pick (2012) out of Kingston, Ontario. The big (6'4" 220 lb.) center had been bouncing between Rochester and Elmira (ECHL) in all three years of his entry-level deal and he may have bounced himself right out the door in Buffalo.