And you may find yourself
Living with too many NHL defenseman
And you may find yourself
With healthy defensemen returning to full health
And you may find yourself
Badly in need of a scoring top six forward
And you may find yourself in a competitive Atlantic Division
With a young, talented, young roster on a losing streak
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?
Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill has his hands full.
After a blazing fast 8-1-1 record in October to begin the season, the Sabres are struggling in the month of October. Eichel and Associates entered Thursday night's home game with the Carolina Hurricanes with a pedestrian 1-5-1 record.
The Sabres are struggling becasue they cannot score goals during this mini slump. Jack Eichel, Samson Reinhart, and Jeff Skinner are the only Sabres forwads who are scoring goals and creating offense. The Sabres' once scorching hot power play is has colled off and is a respectable at 25% (5th in NHL).
Botterill has been searching high and low all season for a top six forward who wil get his beak busted fighting his way to the slot area to hint rebounds and loose pucks.
Botterill has currency in the form of NHL caliber defensemen to build an attractive trade package with.
The Sabres' blue line is literally bustng at the seams right now due to injured players returning to full health. On Wednesday, the Sabres activated defenseman Marco Scandella from injured reserve. The veteran left shot D suffered a lower body injury on October 24. Scandella did not nake the trip to Stockholm, Sweden because he wasn't healthy enough to play in the NHL Global Series games against the Tampa Lightning.
The Sabres' medical staff didn't want to rush Scandella back to the lineup prematurley. So he was activated Wednesday and re-inserted into the starting lineup and paired with his usual partner Henri Jokiharju on Thursday night.
Things are so whacky right now on Buffalo's D corps that top four D Colin Miller was a healthy scratch because of Scandella's return to the lineup. The Miller scratch is not a disciplinary measure. It's a personnel issue.
Too may bodies. Eight defenseman to be exact remain in Buffalo after Lawrence Pilut was sent back to AHL Rochester on Monday.
The Buffalo D corps as we know it today:
You want more defensive drama?
On Wednesday, the Sabres upgraded injured defenseman Zach Bogosian to week-to-week. This was a revelation since Bogosian hasn't played since he underwent hip surgery last April. Bogosian has been skating and making progress and was welcomed back to the fray this week. There is not time table for Bogosian's return to action but it's going to happen sooner than later. Bogosian's $5,142,857 contract has been parked in long term injured reserve. In the coming weeks, Botterill wil have to clear salary cap space in order to activate Bogosian.
Before his injury, Scandella (2G,2A, +7 in 12 games) had been object of desire of several NHL clubs. New Jersey, Winnipeg and Montreal were among the teams sending front office personnel and scouts to Buffalo to scout Scandella and other Sabres.
With Scandella back in lineup, the Devils, Jets, and Canadiens have scouts in Buffalo tonight.
So too do the following teams:
Anaheim (director pro scouting an a scout)
Dalllas ( assistant general manger and a scout)
Columbus (pro scout)
Calgary (pro scout)
NY Rangers (two pro scouts)
St. Louis (director player personnel)
Pittsburgh (pro scout)
Vegas (pro scout)
Nashville (pro scout)
Acquiring a top six forward can be expensive. Botterill has some roster subtraction, slicing and dicing to do in the coming weeks. Scandella is playing on a $4 million expiring contract while Conor Sheary's $3 million AAV expires in July.
Now that the Sabres have returned to normalcy after their jaunt to Sweden, their dance card is going to be filled with games. Try 10 games in 17 nights. Ralph Kreuger’s depth is going to be tested big time. Krueger is going to need all of his starting players and reservists to be ready when called upon to perform. The unfortunate thing about playing in the compressed schedule NHL is injuries happen. Also, players fall down into slumps and need to be taken out of the lineup. Botterill has given Krueger the players and now he wants to see the tides turn into wins.
“ I think it’s great because we’re having options now, at least. You know, and it’s the same thing, just the development of Jokiharju has given us more opportunities to say, “Hey, he’s not down in Rochester right now, he’s up with our team.” So it gives us more opportunity and more, sort of options, that our coaching staff can utilize during the game. But you look at it, like, it’s great that Scandella can come back. I think that he, especially with Henri, had some good chemistry before he got hurt there. It’s great to have Montour finally back into the mix and playing. There’s no, sort of, we have to wait and watch his minutes now. We can play him at full strength here. It’s great to see Zach Bogosian, and I think if you saw some of the quotes, he was pretty emotional yesterday. It’s been a long road for him to get back and it was a great step in his development and his road back to actually playing, being with the practice. But it’s still going to take him some time until he’s 100 percent game-ready there. But from my standpoint, it just gives us more opportunity, more options. Plus, you look at, I think we have, I know at the end of the month we got five in seven, and I think we have starting tonight 10 games in the next 17 days. We know we’re going to utilize these players,” Botterill said on the radio home for the Sabres in Buffalo in Thursday afternoon.
Botterill now has to flip defense for offense.
Eichel, Reinhart and Skinner cannot be expected to score all the goals for the Sabres this season.
Where has Buffalo’s secondary goal scoring disappeared to?