Botterill staying course as Sabres GM

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FILE – In this June 25, 2018, file photo, Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill addresses the media during a NHL news conference in Buffalo N.Y. Realizing how difficult it is to lure free agents to Buffalo, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has relied mostly on trades to stock his roster with established talent. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jack Eichel can’t do it alone.

Secondary and balanced scoring has been an issue for the Sabres as they continue to rely on their top line to find the back of the net. And what made things even tougher when it comes to offense this season is the disappointing season Jeff Skinner had in year two with Buffalo after putting up 40 goals the year before.

Those are some of the reasons the Sabres have not made the playoffs in nine straight seasons and did not make the return to play, 24-team playoff format. They were the first team out in the Eastern Conference.

And GM Jason Botterill continues to emphasis the need to find more scorers within their group in order to get over the hump and end this playoff drought.

“We have to do a better job at creating more offense throughout our four lines of having more depth scoring in our entire lineup,” Botterill said on a zoom call Wednesday morning with reporters.

“It’s also going to be something we continue to look at whether it’s in free agency or through trades for the availability to add different forwards to our mix here.”

Another big topic with Botterill is always developing players at the AHL level in Rochester as a key to success at the NHL level. That was once again the case during this virtual locker clean out zoom call.

“I will certainly always support and believe in our young players we have in our system here. I know Tage Thompson was disappointed he had to have surgery but I’m extremely excited he’s gonna be back a part of our group here. Casey Mittelstadt went down to Rochester with the right attitude and now this is a great opportunity for him to continue to work throughout the summer. Dylan Cozens, this give him a couple extra months here in preperation for another NHL training camp so I’m going to continue to believe in these young players. I believe these young players are going to help us get over the hump and give us depth throughout the organization,” Botterill explained.

He also used the young players as a reason why fans should be confident in this team moving forward as well as the fact that they’ve shown flashes of success in recent seasons.

“We’ve shown the capabilities whether it’s the ten-game winning streak the year before. This year what I was excited about was certainly a very good start but we’ve shown glimpses, I thought throughout the rest of the year,” Botterill said.

But simply moments of success and winning streaks here and there aren’t going to get a team that has the longest active playoff drought to the postseason. It’s going to take stringing those “glimpses” together over longer periods of time throughout a season without collapsing like we saw in the second half of last season or after the trade deadline this year when they were only two points out of a playoff spot and then had a six-game losing streak. Botterill did acknowledge that.

“It’s imperative that we show it over 82 games.”

Botterill also pointed to Jeff Skinner, Wayne Simmonds and Marcus Johansson to veteran acquisitions they’ve made that would point to success “now” rather than always looking towards next season and the youth at lower levels.

Fans are tired of hearing about next year, next year, next year. Hopefully for them, the young guys he mentioned will be ready to contribute right away next season.

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