B-Star mailbag: Ristolainen, fixing the Sabres, something to do during a blizzard
Yesterday’s mailbag piece was so much fun we’ve decided to do another one. Thanks to all for keeping the questions coming. Here we go.
Pat Madia (@patmadia): If you had two compliance buyouts at the end of the year, who are you buying out?
Matt Moulson and Zach Bogosian. I realize Bogosian has the potential to be better under Housley, but I still think there’s so much more the Sabres could do with $6 million per season.
Kevin Howard (email): What do you believe is the best path forward for the Sabres given their current state? Stay the course (wait for prospects to replace veteran players)? Try to make hockey trades (NHL players for NHL players)? Blow it up/rebuild (trade anyone other than Eichel for picks and prospects)? How many years do you think they are away from making the playoffs. Thanks Dave, enjoy your work!
Thanks, Kevin. Jason Botterill inherited a slow, underachieving team and needs to shake up the roster. Consider that out of Buffalo’s top guys who are supposed to provide offense — Eichel, Kane, O’Reilly, Reinhart, Okposo, Pominville — only the first two on that list can scare you with speed. Ask every GM what they’re willing to offer for anyone besides Eichel and make some moves. And don’t buy the “nobody wants our players” narrative when they just found a taker for Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis. They might be years away from making the playoffs, or they might be a couple of shrewd moves away from challenging for a spot next season. Quick turnarounds happen all the time and you never know.
Ed Shelly (@EdShelly1): Why can’t Ristilean (sic) play defense anymore? Right now, he’s a bigger bust than Tyler Myers.
Ristolainen hasn’t been nearly as bad as folks have made him out to be. His possession numbers are actually better than they’ve been over the past few seasons. It would probably help if he wasn’t on the ice for over 30 minutes as was the case Tuesday in Colorado. Tyler Myers has enjoyed the benefit of playing on a very talented team in Winnipeg. It’s funny how a player looks a lot better when he’s surrounded by really good players, isn’t it?
Jimmy Two Times (@boilerbah): Favorite non-traditional activity to do in a blizzard?
I like to go on YouTube and watch player mic’d up videos. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m addicted to them. If there’s a video of players chatting or trash talking then I’m watching it. One of my favorites is the one where Steve Ott recited faceoff stats from NHL.com to Claude Giroux before they squared off. There’s enough mic’d up entertainment out there to get me through a three day blizzard if necessary.
Jimmy Two Times (again. Thanks, Jimmy!): How much do you think your subscription numbers would rise if the Sabres were in playoff contention at this point?
Oh, they’d go way up for sure. I got a laugh telling a story about this at our subscriber party Monday night at Amherst Pizza and Ale House. Monthly subscribers are renewing at around 90%, but it’s funny how after a really bad Sabres loss I’ll get a cancellation literally ten seconds after the final horn sounds. It’s like, “I’ve had enough and can’t read about this team anymore”. But I’m thankful for the other 90% and hope folks will be willing to ride this out. They’re going to be a very good team next season, right???
Thomas Durlak (@bflodukes63 ): 2 questions. It seems that the national media have serious doubts in those who are calling for Tyrod to be replaced. Are Bills fans missing something by calling for his benching? Could he be better with new OC?
A football question! OK, no problem. Taylor is such a polarizing figure because what he lacks in passing ability he gains in not turning the ball over. Benching him is one thing but replacing him with an unproven rookie is another. I’m having a hard time believing the Bills would be better off with Nathan Peterman at quarterback. But I can definitely be convinced they’d be better off with Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield. The Bills could look foolish if they don’t draft a quarterback in the first round. And, sure, Taylor could look better with a different coordinator, but how much better really? Pretty much everyone thought he’d played his way out of Buffalo last season before Rick Dennison even got here.