3 Stars

May 12, 2017 - 3:02 pm

Jason Botterill’s introduction as Sabres GM featured a whirlwind of questions and answers.  Here are the three stars of the last 24 hours:

3rd Star - Development

Development isn’t throwing young players in lockers or shouting at them.  Development is the part that comes after the draft pick.  It’s the blind spot that those of us outside the sports we talk about have to the process.  We can see the picks, we can see the results, but we don’t always get access to what happens in between.  With the Sabres last GM and Coach, I started to feel that player development was lacking.  The talent will show itself, but the systems and the atmosphere are the things that may bring out the very best in those players.  The Sabres very clearly had the wrong coach for the job, and it’s the GM’s job to know that.  That he didn’t act on that at any point, indicates his approach to player development is greatly different than what I think it should have been.  The Sabres have had a team that is led by young stars.  Is it to be expected that they’ll know how to live an NHL life?  If they misstep, is the answer to shout, punish, or call out publicly?  Sometimes it may be, but I want the GM and the coach to connect with the players.  Connect with the team.  On Eichel specifically, Botterill talked of wanting to connect with him.  Smart man.  In Tim Murray’s final press conference, he flat out said that connection with the players was lacking under Dan Bylsma.  If the Sabres are entering an era of better player development and relationships, I’m all for it.

2nd Star - Offer Sheets

Botterill says Buffalo has that option.  He conceded that the team here has the cap space and the picks to sign RFA offer sheets.  While he mentioned that other avenues might be more likely, Botterill has something that the Penguins didn’t often have - caps pace, and offer sheets.

Hey, it’s a start.  I’m sure that upon mentioning the possibility of RFA offer sheets, Botterill got 30 texts from GMs around the league telling him that it’s not fair and they all agree not to do it.  Hopefully it’s a group text.  If it is… maybe one of them will have the guts to call his shot and offer sheet David Pastrnak of the Bruins.

This is competition fellas.  Let’s go.

1st Star - Economics

What can I say… I’m very happy.  Four days after the Sabres fired Tim Murray, I posted what I would look for in a GM candidate.  

This job is about markets.  The free agent market, the RFA market, the Draft market, the trade market… it’s managing commodities.  Botterill, went back to school to study business and economics.  This is the kind of candidate that should have the job.  If things hadn’t gone his way in the hockey world, he may have been headed to corporate finance or commercial banking.

In our conversation with him, Botterill told us how that education absolutely applies to his current position, “I talk a lot about my negotiation classes, then I talk about valuation course.  You’re trying to value what a company is worth, it’s very similar to what a player is.  You’re trying to figure out projections on what he’s accomplished, what’s his value right now.  It was a great experience, and I actually took a lot from those courses that I still implement today.”

We’ll have to wait to see the proof, but this is a good sign.  One would like to think this mindset doesn’t trade a first round pick for a goalie.  Is it nitpicking Murray?   I don’t think so.  That trade was… a mistake from day one.  

A banker as my GM is better than a scout as my GM.

Find the markets you can profit in.  Read the long term projections.  Anticipate changes in those markets.  This is the crux of being a modern day GM in the NHL.  You have to coordinate all different departments and chart a path forward.  I want the guy that knows the ins and outs of incentivization.  That is at the root of motivation for everyone on Earth.  

I wanted an economist… and I think this counts as a hit.

Oh, and I asked him about the 3-2-1 point system.  He’s a fan.  

On tanking?  I’ll let someone else do the honors.  I got a feeling he knows the value of those high picks though.



Side note - Brandon Beane’s presser went well enough today, right?  One request… no more GMs talk about how you need to run the ball.  It was the only beef I had.  He praised running, and mentioned that the weather here requires running it?  Did they ever say this in Green Bay?  New England?  Let’s stop saying it.  It’s wrong.  Other than that, good job.


Second Side note - Holy Crap the Stars and Ben Bishop.  Even the good GMs are addicted to paying goalies as if the money they give them will make the saves for them.  Niemi?  Lehtonen?  Let’s see, we have TWO goalies signed by other teams that make too much money and aren’t good.  Let’s add another one!  Good job, Stars.   Good job.  

Never pay a goalie long term big money. 





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