by Bob Gaughn, Buffalo Sports Page
In his introductory news conference Ralph Krueger the new head coach of the Buffalo Sabres mentioned how he after being interviewed for the Sabres job walked around area bars and asked Sabres fans what they thought of the team. I was not one of the people that Krueger ran into but if I were here is what I would have told him.
Krueger Could Fill Dual Role
Krueger is very accomplished man and you could tell from his press conference how well he handles the media. To me he all ready should be the face of the organization. He handles the media better than anyone in the organization. The president of the Sabres is open in my eyes because currently Kim Pegula is in that role. You need a hockey person in that role to help Jason Botterill out. Krueger in my eyes has the resume to be coach and president of the Sabres.
Married only to Two Guys
There are only two players on this roster that I would say are untouchable. Those guys are of course Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin. Everyone else could be had in my eyes for the right price. The roster needs to improve from top to bottom. Some players need to go. The players that need to go in my eyes are Johan Larsson, Jason Pominville, Zemgus Girgensons and Marco Scandella. The Sabres do need to add two more forwards and one solid defensemen. Depth on the roster is horrible. He needs to know that.
Don’t count me in the crowd that has to have Jeff Skinner back. At this point you are going to have to overpay for Skinner. My problem with overpaying him would be how long is the contract and for what money am I on the hook? Obviously if I felt he was going to score 40 goals every year I’m in on him, but I’m not sure about that. My only problem with Skinner is if he’s not scoring then he does little else for me. Can’t you see this being another Kyle Okposo situation a year or two down the road? A guy that isn’t scoring at the needed pace and now you can’t get rid of because of the price. All I’m saying is if you lost Skinner because of the price I wouldn’t criticize them. I’d turn my focus on getting a Matt Duchene or a Patrick Kane and move on.
Likewise I’m not totally in the camp of you have to get rid of Rasmus Ristolainen. Sabres fans have an argument that doesn’t make sense to me about him. The argument is basically he stinks and we should trade him for another top defensemen or a top forward. Well if he stinks then why would anyone give you a top defensemen or top forward for him? And if someone is going to give you that, then he must not stink.
If you get rid of him instead of one defensemen you are now going to need two defensemen in your top four. All I’m saying is as stated above I would trade him but only for the right price. And he’s not the number one guy I would trade.
I’ve watched the NHL playoff games like the rest of the fans of hockey in Buffalo. My question is how many players like Sam Reinhart do you see on the ice for these good playoff teams? In my eyes not many. Playoff hockey to me is about speed. In my eyes Reinhart can’t keep up. To me he’s a power play specialist. This is a good time to trade him. His trade value is rather high coming off two 20 plus goal seasons.
I’d trade him for more speed and to change the culture of the room. I think you could get very good value for him right now.
I would tell Krueger that he needs to develop some of the younger players. Casey Mittelstadt and Lawrence Pilut are two names that come to mind that need to develop under his tutelage.
I would trade the first round pick in a package if needed. The 7th pick overall is kind of no man’s land. Put that on the table as a chip to play as you are thinking of turning over this roster.
Your best goalie is at best a year away. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen needed hip surgery and will not be your goalie at least next year. You need to make a decision about getting through at least this year before he might be available in two years at best.
He needs to class up the organization and make it a destination for players to come. The organization has obviously slipped and it seems players and coaches use Buffalo as a bargaining chip to get what they want from other teams. It wasn’t too long ago where Buffalo was a place where people wanted to come to.
I hope after telling him these things in the bar he would still have taken the job. There is a ton or work to be done to make this team a playoff caliber team. Good luck Ralph.