Sabres' Botterill pulled no surprises in Day 1 of free agency

July 1, 2018

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jason Botterill stayed right with the script on Day 1 of NHL Free Agency. The Sabres GM said he was going to get a goalie for Buffalo and Rochester and he did just that by signing Carter Hutton and Scott Wedgewood.

He also said he was going to try to re-sign winger Scott Wilson and he did that too.

Botterill said last week that he was not going to overpay for a free agent, which I think is very smart. Most of the signings that happen on July 1 are regretted before the contract is even half over.

With the signing of Hutton, Botterill mentioned that having worked with Phil Housley, Andrew Allen and Jerry Forton before helped immensely.

Botterill also said it was more than just scouts that went into the evaluation, “Our analytics department certainly liked him a lot and then you get the character check, it allowed us to have a lot of confidence in making the decision.”

Hutton has never been a No. 1 goalie in the NHL. The most games he’s ever played in the league is 40. Botterill said nothing will be handed to him, but he needs to be there for Linus Ullmark, “We’ve talked a lot about having internal competition, but we’re very excited about Ullmark’s potential, but we don’t want to put the pressure of him carrying the team right off the bat.

“So what we like about Carter is he has the confidence that he can handle the No. 1 role, but you look at his history of working with young goalies, we think it’s a great fit for Carter to have an opportunity to be a No. 1, but also working with an up and coming goalie in Ullmark.”

The Sabres will not pay Ryan O’Reilly’s $7.5 million bonus until 11:59 Sunday night. Botterill said if they pay it, the price of doing business will go up, “It certainly to me changes the dynamic from anything we had been asking or what we’d be looking for from a trade perspective.”

I know the Sabres looked into Michael Grabner, who wound up signing with Arizona. Buffalo still needs a lot at wing, but Botterill was not going to over pay, “We always want to add more scorers to the mix and that’s why we checked in on some free agents, but we just didn’t see a fit that would work well for us, especially with some of the term that was going out in some of the contracts out there.”

The last offer sheet in the NHL was when Calgary made one to O’Reilly while he was still in Colorado. They are almost never done and Botterill said, “I think you always have to consider things, you always have to look at those different situations because they may come up, but I can tell you right now at this time, nothing’s close and we’re not prepared to make an offer in the near future.”