Sabres' Botterill has been talking to teams about a forward

The GM still talks about needing his depth on defense

Paul Hamilton
November 19, 2019 - 8:24 pm

Photo: Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jason Botterill got back from Toronto a few hours before the start of Tuesday’s game.

The pressure is on the Sabres general manager as the losses and injuries keep piling up. Fans are clamoring for a trade to get a forward. Botterill said, “We just had our GM meetings today. It’s certainly a situation where we’re actively looking to see if we can make our team a little better and find a forward out there to help our group, but we are also happy with how our players have come up from Rochester and played so far.”

Historically big trades aren’t made in the NHL during November, and this month has been no different. That also doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Botterill said, “It’s always difficult. We’re out there talking to different teams and when you look at the salary cap world, other teams are having injuries and the other element is we’re finally getting healthy on defense. But it’s imperative that we keep our depth on defense and we’ve utilized it already this year, so we know over the course of 82 games we’re going to need it again here.”

Now that doesn’t mean Botterill definitely won’t trade a defenseman He said, “We want to make sure we understand that we’re going to face some injuries on defense here and we want to make sure we have that capability, so those are the things that we continue to look at so if there’s a mix on another team where we can add to our group at forward and if we are going to move anything from our defense, we have to make sure we’re helping our team out.”

I think it’s important to remember that there are nine defensemen up with Buffalo and three in Rochester in Lawrence Pilut, Will Borgen and Casey Nelson that are quite capable of playing in the NHL, so in my mind, they have 12 NHL defensemen.

Botterill was asked what he would say to fans that think this season is just like last season. The general manager said, “I would say that’s something that we’ll have to prove that it’s not and I think the vibe that we have in our locker room and the confidence that we have in there, especially in the beginning of this month.

“We had games against Washington, the Islanders and Tampa Bay, and those are teams that have been on top of the league the last couple of years, and that’s where we want to get to and unfortunately we’re not there yet.”

The reality of the Sabres trading for players is it has to be money in and money out. Botterill agreed, “Eventually we have to be cap compliant, and we understand that these players will be coming back and we don’t want to be put in a situation where we have to make a move.”

Buffalo may be getting another defenseman back in Zach Bogosian. Buffalo has games in Boston on Thursday, Florida on Sunday and Tampa Bay on Monday. Botterill thinks Bogosian could make his long awaited return by then, “We’re optimistic that some time on the road trip that he’ll be able to play. I think Zach has worked extremely hard coming back from this injury, and I think he’ll be a big boost to our team.”

I saw Kyle Okposo walking down the hall inside the arena on Tuesday morning. It was good to see that he was at least here. Botterill said he, of course, is worried about Okposo the man, “There’s a lot of concern and it’s just simply because it’s Kyle. You appreciate and respect what he brings to our team. The leader that he is within our locker room and the man that he is.

“You don’t want to see anyone have a concussion and the focus is on making sure that Kyle is alright and get him back to normal health.”

Since enough players are injured, Dylan Cozens could’ve been recalled on an emergency basis from junior. Botterill said that will not be considered, “From Dylan’s standpoint, we’re ecstatic with him as a player and his development, but he is not on the radar for this situation. His goal is now to help Lethbridge out and to find a way on to the World Junior team.”

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