Housley: 'Really excited' to work with Montour

The Sabres head coach joined Howard and Jeremy before Brandon Montour's debut with the Sabres on Tuesday

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
February 26, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Photo: John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

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The Buffalo Sabres weren't expected to make any major moves before Monday's NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. EST, but general manager Jason Botterill did make a splash on the trade market with the acquisition of some speed and mobility on the blue line. 

The Sabres went out and acquired 24-year-old Brandon Montour on Sunday from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for one of their three first round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft and defensive prospect Brendan Guhle. Since he was drafted 55th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft by Anaheim, Montour has recorded 63 points (16+47) in 169 games.

Montour made the trip to Toronto on Monday to meet up with his teammates, but he did not play in last night's 5-3 loss to the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. However, he is expected to make his Sabres debut on Tuesday night as the Sabres are in Philadelphia to face the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I’m really excited to work with this young man,” said Sabres head coach Phil Housley when he joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White during his regular Tuesday morning segment on WGR. “Just coaching against him in the Western Conference Final when I was with Nashville, he’s a true competitor. He plays the game the way we want to play, which is fast. He’s got great escapability, a great passing ability. He’s got very high-end skill, and he’s got a heavy shot, so I’m looking forward to what he is going to bring to our team.” 

From what has been said about Montour since the trade, it’s obvious that both Housley and Botterill place high value on their new addition. Going into the weekend, there were rumors circulating about what the Sabres might do before the deadline. However, the team’s true intentions with approaching the trade deadline seemed to a well-kept secret.

“Jason and I talked about a lot of different situations and players,” said Housley. “Definitely Brandon was one guy that we were trying to acquire. There was a lot of other different conversations, which is great what we were able to get him and [have him] be a part of our organization. We’re very excited to have him, and looking forward to a bright future.”  

The defensive unit is a young group of guys, much like the rest of the team. Montour fits in perfectly for the type of team that Housley is trying to build. There’s a heavy emphasis on youth and speed, and adding a defensemen like Montour shows the direction that Housley is trying to head as the Sabres continue to develop their roster and players. 

“Well I think there’s more still to come,” Housley said as he talked about developing his newly acquired defenseman. “I can only speak on when I coached against him in Nashville. I just really liked the way he attacked the game. He also brings a physical element. Obviously, we added another piece to a really good core of young players, and I would include Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, to name a few, with Dahlin. We’re a very young team, and that’s part of just the whole team development. Trying to find the right pieces and Brandon is going to be a big part of our team. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going to bring to our team tonight against Philadelphia.”

Housley is still unsure of who he is going to pair Montour with on the back-end. He and the coaches still are discussing how to best fit Montour in the line-up; however, he has some ideas as to what situations he would like to use him.

“He’s will get an opportunity to play on the power-play. More or less, just getting the feet wet with our team and getting comfortable with his teammates,” said Housley. 

The head coach has acknowledged that it is not easy transitioning from one team to the next within a few days. Montour flew to Toronto and got to meet the team shortly before they took to the ice to face the Maple Leafs, but Housley pointed out that Montour needs to rely more on his “hockey instincts” and couple those with team concepts that he will pick up as he spends more time in Buffalo.

As for his team's recent play, Housley felt that the group has really turned the page after a couple bad losses earlier in February. Even though the team has lost two of those games, he feels that his team has showed their ability to compete with top-tier teams, but they need to focus on playing hard for a full 60 minutes.

“If you look at the last three games, I really liked the way we played eight out of nine periods,” said Housley. “We let our guard down three minutes to seven minutes against Toronto, but I like the way we responded.”

During a press conference on Monday, Botterill commented on the progress he has seen “behind the scenes” as of late from the team. Addressing these comments, Housley pointed out that the way his team plays in games is a byproduct of how they perform in practice.

“I think we just continue to reach a standard in practice, and I think that helps in getting prepared for the game, and right now we haven’t had a lot of time to practice because of the schedule, and sometimes that can have an effect on your team,” said Housley.

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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