Botterill said things are positive with Eichel

August 23, 2017
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - It’s starting to get closer as the Sabres offseason is winding down and the prospects report.

Many of the youngsters are already in Buffalo working out with the strength and condition coaches as are a few of the veterans. Skating on Wednesday were Brendan Guhle, C.J. Smith, Justin Bailey and Victor Antipin who has number 93 on his helmet. Matt Ellis ran with practice.

Jason Botterill was in Rochester on Tuesday for the Amerks golf tournament and joined our sister station ESPN 95.7. He told The Sports Bar that he jumped right in after he got the job in May, “It’s certainly been a very hectic summer trying to get the team together and building a staff around it.”

On July 1, Botterill was able to begin negotiations with Jack Eichel’s agent on a contract extension. Things seem to be trending to an eight-year deal, but there are still parts of the contract that need to be agreed to. Botterill said, “It’s a new market with different contracts coming into play here and that’s where the discussions have seemed to go. It’s a scenario where both parties need to be comfortable with where the final number is going to be, but all of our discussions with Jack have been very positive.”

“The bottom line is we want to get him signed, he wants to be part of Buffalo moving forward. In all our interactions whether with myself or Phil Housley, Jack has been extremely excited about communicating with us. I know he’s working extremely hard to make sure that he stays healthy and he’s hoping to be a leader to taking this team to the next level.”

Many have wondered if Eichel being the new captain of this team is part of the contract negotiation. Botterill said, “The captaincy along with the contract is something completely different. It’s a situation where myself and Phil will evaluate the situation and how the team goes together.”

"The good thing looking at the situation we look at players such as Jack and O’Reilly, Bogosian on the backend and now bringing in a guy like Jason Pominville, we think was have some very good leaders within our locker room.”

If you were to ask me, Kyle Okposo would be the first name that would pop into my mind as captain. He has an awful lot of respect from the players in that room.

Will Butcher is a college defenseman that has hit the unrestricted free agent market. We know that Butcher has had talks with the Sabres and Botterill said, “We’ve had some discussions with Will and his agency and one of our goals that we talked about as a staff this summer was trying to improve our defense at the National Hockey League and the depth within our organization and Will could help us out there in that regard.”

“He’s going through a process right now in making a decision. So far we’ve had good communication with him, but there’s a lot of interest throughout the league for him.”

If the Sabres were to sign Butcher he would join a defense of Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Jake McCabe, Bogosian, Nate Beaulieu, Antipin and Josh Gorges. Waiting in the wings are Guhle, Casey Nelson, Justin Falk, Taylor Fedun, Matt Tennyson and Devante Stephens.

The Prospects Tournament is September 8, 9 and 11. I will be joined by Brian Duff and Pat Malacaro to bring you all the action on WGR Sports Radio 550 and the live stream on Sabres.com.