"So what happens now?"
It's a question that a lot of us have now that the Buffalo Sabres portion of the expansion draft is over. But that doesn't mean things are going to calm down. As a matter of fact, this was just the appetizer to the main course that's set to arrive at our table sometime in the next few days.
The three biggest post-expansion draft questions for the Sabres:
1) What's going to happen with Evander Kane?
On Wednesday TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted that the Sabres are in ongoing discussions with some "win-now" teams regarding 25-year-old left winger, Evander Kane. Trade talks have swirled around Kane for months -- but will new GM Jason Botterill actually pull the trigger on a deal? Your guess is as good as mine.
Status quo with the Sabres and trade interest in Evander Kane. Ongoing discussions with teams on a "win now" path. Not clear on teams in mix
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 21, 2017
Last week, Kane told Steve Ewen of The Province in Vancouver "I’m getting prepared to start another NHL season. Hopefully, it’s in Buffalo."
It all comes down to whether or not the Sabres can get a fair return for their young, scoring winger. There's no denying that Kane is an asset to the Sabres on the ice. His 28-goals in 73 games last season proved that.
What's concerning is that Kane is set to become an unrestricted free-agent who will likely sign a pretty hefty contract. The Sabres have some wiggle room but also have to pay Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart relatively soon.
Losing Kane for nothing can't happen so that means the Sabres must either resign him to an extension, trade him in the next few days or make a move before the next trade deadline. Of the three aforementioned options, the two trades seem like the most likely. So now we wait.
2) Is Jason Botterill done fixing the defense?
In less than a calendar month, the Sabres have added both Victor Antipin from the KHL and acquired Nathan Beaulieu from the Montreal Canadiens. Chances are, both will be in the Sabres opening night lineup, alongside Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) June 18, 2017
Then things get a little complicated.
If I were a betting man, I'd imagine Zach Bogosian is also in the opening night lineup, especially after failing to be selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. That leaves the Sabres with Josh Gorges, Justin Falk, and Brendan Guhle as the most likely options.
Three months ago I would've thought Guhle was a lock but now it's looking more and more like he'll start the year in Rochester. That's not a bad thing, either. Give him some time to develop his game and be better prepared for the next level. He showed a lot in his three-game emergency call-up, but like most 19-year-old's, he could use some developing.
Regardless of what happens, the Sabres defensive unit looks far improved on paper. It's not fixed, however, it's a good start.
That's how long the Sabres have to sign Cal Petersen. If they can't get a deal done before June 30 he can sign with whoever he pleases.
Botterill said last week that he planned on meeting with Petersen before the draft. We haven't heard anything on Petersen since, but he's likely waiting to see how things play out with the NHL Draft on Friday.
Petersen now knows what moving and shaking happened with the expansion draft, however, there will certainly be moves before the weekend has ended.
The good news -- Linus Ullmark is still in the organization.
The bad news -- It has now been 21 days and still no contract for Petersen.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) May 31, 2017