Cullen: 'You think differently about this lineup' if the Sabres trade Ristolainen

Scott Cullen from The Hockey News and joined WGR to talk about the state of the Sabres

Schopp & Bulldog | Weekdays 3p-7p
July 02, 2019 - 4:27 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

The NHL offseason is in full gear, and the Buffalo Sabres have been somewhat active towards building their roster for the 2019-2020 season.

Last weekend, the Sabres made a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that saw Buffalo acquire right-shot defenseman Colin Miller for a pair of picks. Then just moments before the start of NHL Free Agency on Monday, the Sabres swung another trade with the New York Rangers to acquire forward Jimmy Vesey.

The Sabres also added to the depth of their organization with four new signings once the free agency period officially opened at 12 p.m. on Monday.

Despite those additions, the Sabres' roster is still a work in progress before the start of the upcoming season.

Scott Cullen of The Hockey News and joined Mike Schopp and the Bulldog on Tuesday to discuss the Sabres' moves so far, what's still left to get taken care of, and an early prediction on the 2019-20 season.

Here is some of what he had to say:


Cullen on top-six forwards and a surplus of right-hand defenders:

“Once they acquired Colin Miller, I think it looked like there was sort of an imbalance on the Sabres roster. You’ve still got what appears to be a gaping hole at second line center. Lots of depth now on the right side of the blue line, which is certainly a desirable commodity around the NHL… we’ve talked about Ristolainen over the years whether or not you can move him and if you can still move him and bring in some real quality in return. Yeah, you would probably think differently about this lineup.”


Cullen on Ristolainen:

“If you’re going to move Ristolainen, he’s probably the most marketable piece to really bring in a significant player, particularly a significant forward. If they have something like that [trade negotiations] going, I don’t think it has to happen on July 1. As we get into August, and as you start looking at training camp, and if it hasn’t happened well then I’d get worried.”


Cullen on Jimmy Vesey:

“I think what happened when he came out of university, and there was this bidding war for him because he elected to go to free agency, expectations became totally unreasonable for Jimmy Vesey. You look at his numbers at Harvard they were good in what is not a great college hockey league. Really what he’s produced with the Rangers…that’s kind of about what should’ve been expected.”


Cullen on Jimmy Vesey’s previous season with the New York Rangers:

It did look like last season he had a chance to maybe take advantage of the fact that the Rangers were rebuilding and giving him more of an opportunity, but then he really had a bad slump to finish the year. One goal and no assists in the last 19 games, that’s a tough way to end your season. Could Jimmy Vesey play a second line role and be a competent secondary scorer? I think he could be, but expecting more than that is unreasonable.


Cullen on the Sabres' core:

“If you’ve got the core pieces, you would think that gets you a lot further along the way. The difference you can make them [changes] on the third and fourth line. Fifth and sixth defenseman shouldn’t be what perpetually keeps you out of the playoffs, there’s something to that.”


Cullen on the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens:

“I don’t look at Florida and Montreal and see them as hurdles you can’t overcome. Yes, those are teams that have some expectations and have been closer to the playoffs than the Sabres. It’s not as though those teams have filled in all their holes and have no reason to worry about getting caught from behind.”


You can listen to the entire interview below:

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