Craig Button believes the Sabres have plenty of assets. ©2017, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Analyst: Sabres’ next GM entering ‘promising’ gig

BUFFALO – Despite inheriting a last-place club, the Sabres’ next general manager will also be entering a “promising” job, said former NHL GM Craig Button.

Why? The Sabres already possess two cornerstones at critical positions.

“When you start with (center) Jack Eichel and you’ve got a (defenseman like) Rasmus Ristolainen, you’ve got the framework for something to really move significantly ahead with,” said Button, the Calgary Flames’ GM for three years in the early 2000s before becoming a TSN analyst.

To Button, a “stud centerman” and a “top-notch defenseman” are “two of the hardest pieces to find anywhere in the sport of hockey.”

“They have that, and they’re young and they’re good,” Button told the Times Herald by phone Monday. “Then you start to look at the other pieces around them. You look at a Sam Reinhart and you look at an Evander Kane and you look at a Ryan O’Reilly and you look at a Jake McCabe, and then you start to look at some of the other younger players like an Alex Nylander. There’s pieces that support those players.”

That talent wasn’t enough to help the Sabres secure a playoff spot this season. Instead of building on their 27-point improvement in 2015-16, they regressed, finishing with three fewer points.

After dropping to the Atlantic Division basement, Sabres owner Terry Pegula fired general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma on April 20.

The Sabres have reportedly interviewed seven GM candidates, and they recently spoke to Pittsburgh Penguins associate GM Jason Botterill, a former Sabre, a second time, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Pegula recently said he regrets not being involved in the search when the Sabres hired Murray in early 2014. It’s one of many gaffes Pegula has made during his more than six years as owner. The team has only made the playoffs once under his watch, just months after he assumed control.

Still, the passion Pegula and his wife, Kim, have showcased over the years will be meaningful for the new GM, Button said.

“When you start with that base of passion and desire to be the best, we all can veer off the road a little bit at times, but you know that they want the best, and that’s good for somebody coming in there, too,” he said.

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Adam Nightengale, the Sabres’ video coach under Bylsma last season, has taken a similar position with the Detroit Red Wings.

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The Sabres announced Tuesday the NHL Scouting Combine will remain in Buffalo through 2019. The team began hosting the annual showcase of draft-eligible prospects at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in 2015.

4 thoughts on “Analyst: Sabres’ next GM entering ‘promising’ gig”

  1. Kim and by extension Terry are too confused as owners of any sports team. No patience to let GM’s and HC’s make the teams into playoff calibre teams. Firing 2 GM’s both within a month proves my points. As much as Kim has done for the city with Terry signing the checks is all well and good. But as franchise owner’s She leaves a lot of stink.

    1. Wow, there’s nothing like a sexist prick!

      Kim Pegula is more on the marketing side of ownership. The constant hate for her, despite her not being the one making decisions, is pretty sad.

      Also, Doug Whaley deserved to be fired. He had four years and the Bills remained mediocre and never increased their win total, constantly stuck between 7-9 and 9-7. Tim Murray technically had 2 years after undergoing a fully blown rebuild to get a franchise player. At least he got that, which is more than Whaley can say.

      Does it make you feel like a tough-guy with a bigger sword to swing, when you insult women? Your comment, as usual, leaves a lot of stink and embarrassment.

      Typical loser.

      1. Wow?? Love how you twist my words into what you want for your rant. At no point did I spew hate for or towards Kim Pegula. FYI, Kim is as you said on the Marketing side to some far ranging extent. She also makes decisions as well. Are you conveniently forgetting that Kim upon being there for rex’s 1st interview she was in her own words “BLOWN AWAY” and then demanded Rex come in for a 2nd interview. At that time Rex was hired. This is facts known in Bills nation. Was reported in various variations a lot. She does make team decisions. Rex was as we know a terrible coach. Which is just one fiasco the team owners themselves created albeit not intentionally. Then there’s the firing of the GM? Yes, it was time for him to be gone. However, the timing was bad. Doug tho, showed class and restraint by not causing problems knowing after the draft he was getting fired. Bad timing? Because 2 teams at the same time have no GM. Another fiasco. Then there was the presser announcing the firing? Did you hear it? Listen closely like I did? When asked about when the decision was made, Tery said, right after the draft. Then he was asked, who made the decision. He said he himself made it. Later in the presser, he was asked again who made the decision? (slick reporter there.) Terry said, it was him and Kim who decided together. Thereby we now have another blemish nationally laughed at and about. We have become a laughed at organization. That is on the owner and by the owners. I am angry and ashamed at how sports is in Buffalo right now. And I may offend you but it is what it is.

      2. Jeez. Don’t be so quick to call someone a woman hater because they disapprove of the current situation. I think you took his words a little too far and you sound oversensitive to an issue that wasn’t even being brought to the conversation until you talked about it.

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