By Brandon J. Koch
As the bye hits for the Buffalo Sabres, it’s hard for me not to look forward. The team sits 30th in the league standings.
Thursday’s win gives you a little glimpse into the future of this hockey club.
Here are some thoughts I have regarding the blue and gold:
I’m going to try and go inside the mind of Jason Botterill, who has to have a plan at goaltender. There’s no reason why Ullmark shouldn’t have been up here to start the season, but it was smart to let him carry the load in Rochester. He played well Thursday and will get a playoff run with the Amerks. Ullmark has one year left on his contract at $750,000, potentially a bargain.
Robin Lehner is a good as gone, in my opinion. He’s a unrestricted free agent and I think there will be teams wanting him at the deadline. Fans got on Lehner from the moment he got here, simply for fact that Tim Murray gave up a 1st round pick to acquire him. I think he’s a good goaltender, but I don’t want any goaltender making more than $4 million dollars a year. Botterill could save at least three million dollars in cap by having Ullmark at the current hit and getting a cheap, productive backup.
Smart thinking by Botterill for having him come up for a few games, knowing the bye was right after that. Now he’s back in Rochester and playing right away. What a breath of fresh air, seeing what this kid can do at defense. He’s a quick learner, skating is off the charts, we saw him deep in the offensive zone and the ability to be able to get back. Defenseman develop later than most positions, so the way Guhle is being handed is smart.
The Sabres have been trying to trade him for weeks, as reported by TSN. But it’s what the Sabres get back is most intriguing to me. I expect picks and established prospects back in return. As Botterill said on the radio earlier this week, contending teams don’t want to give up what they have built on the NHL level.
Scored his 12th goal Friday night and has been a very good player for the Amerks. Fully expect him to compete for a roster spot next season, as he has developed very nice so far. In 38 games he has 33 points.
Out another 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury. He was put on IR at the start of the season and missed the first couple months. He has to be considered for a buyout. I love what he does with his foundation and he is a excellent human being, but you have got to stay healthy. Over 5 million cap hit for the next two seasons. I know Phil Housley likes him, but this player is a big question mark.