Even in August, it's still hard to come up with a Sabres lineup

Too many teams haven't figured out their salary cap yet

Paul Hamilton
August 13, 2019 - 11:07 am

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Things are stalled in the NHL because some big name restricted free agents still haven’t signed. Some teams that might be interested in Rasmus Ristolainen are still wondering what their salary cap situation is.

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I think the Sabres have improved, but they need to do more. The problem is some signings have to happen first.

Toronto doesn’t have Mitch Marner signed, Tampa Bay is waiting on Brayden Point, while Winnipeg has two big RFAs in Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.

Calgary still needs to sign Matthew Tkachuk, while Vancouver needs to come to terms with Brock Boeser.

With so many things still up in the air, it’s hard to try to figure out the Sabres' lineup.

Many of you want to send about six veterans down to Rochester, but the AHL has a veteran limit and the Amerks already have Kevin Porter, Zach Redmond, J.S.Dea, John Gilmour and Curtis Lazar.

With all that in mind, my thoughts immediately go to Victor Olofsson. In my opinion, he would have to have an awful training camp not to be in Buffalo, but Jason Botterill already has too many players without him.

I still need to find a place for him, so I think they will need to find a place in the AHL for Scott Wilson to play. They would also need to find a place for either Marco Scandella or Casey Nelson. That would mean my three extra players would be Zemgus Girgensons, Vladimir Sobotka and either Nelson or Scandella.

Lawrence Pilut, Zach Bogosian and Matt Hunwick would all be on injured reserve.

I was thinking Henri Jokiharju would start in Rochester, but when Jason Botterill was on with The Instigators on Wednesday, he mentioned this kid’s name numerous times so I think he’s here.

So looking at things, this is how my defense would be:

 

26 - Dahlin       55 - Ristolainen

19 - McCabe    33 - Miller

62 - Montour    10 - Jokiharju

 

Montour would be the right-handed shot playing on the left side.  

At forward, Botterill mentioned Evan Rodrigues being one of his top-three centers. Rodrigues spends a lot of time with Jimmy Vesey in the offseason, so I might be inclined to have them play together. My first thought is maybe move Olofsson to the right side.

If I were the GM of this team, I would be looking to trade Conor Sheary if I could. It would help with cap space, and it would also help to make sure Olofsson has a spot.

 

53 - Skinner        9 - Eichel           23 - Reinhart

90 - Johansson   37 - Mittelstadt   43 - Sheary

13 - Vesey          71 - Rodrigues    68 - Olofsson

72 - Thompson   22 - Larsson       21 - Okposo

 

Tage Thompson did a terrific job when he was finally sent to Rochester. It'll be interesting to see what he's been doing in the off season to make himself stronger and make the next step. Botterill can't be so bullheaded with the kid. If he hasn't shown that much improvement, he must go spend more time with Chris Taylor. If he's not ready, then I'd put Girgensons in his spot and Wilson would then become the extra winger.

Yes, we’re in the middle of August, but so many things could change before opening night. Ristolainen seems like he’s hoping to be gone, but will those restricted free agents be signed so those teams know what their caps are going to be?

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