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Botterill discusses deadline day, state of Sabres

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

When all was said and done, the Buffalo Sabres made one trade ahead of the league's 3 p.m. deadline on Monday afternoon. Given Jason Botterill's comments on the current state of the team, more change could be on the horizon come spring.

First, the deal: The Sabres acquired forward Danny O'Regan, a conditional first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick, both in 2019, from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Evander Kane.

The status of the first-round pick is contingent on the Sharks either re-signing Kane during the offseason or winning the Stanley Cup this spring. If neither of those conditions are met, it becomes a second-round pick in 2019.

The Sharks have the option to push the fourth-round pick in 2019 to the third round in 2020.

"We certainly had a lot of interest, a lot of discussion with different teams," Botterill said. "The bottom line is we had one legitimate offer for Evander, and that's why we worked off of it with San Jose."

Video: BOTTERILL: Trade Deadline Press Conference

O'Regan, 24, was teammates with Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues at Boston University, where the trio skated as linemates during Eichel's Hobey Baker Award-winning season of 2014-15. He played four seasons with the Terriers, compiling 154 points. 

O'Regan was the AHL's Rookie of the Year last season after scoring 58 points (23+35) in 63 games and has scored five points (1+4) in 22 career NHL games. He will report to Rochester initially, with an eye on joining the Sabres down the road. 

"We are very impressed with his skill level, certainly his hockey sense," Botterill said. "You look at last year, the success he had at the American Hockey League, we think he's ready to make the jump here.

"We've tried to build Rochester up to have a winning environment down there. He'll certainly help them there down the run and we're hopeful that, once he gets into our organization and plays some games, he'll be in the mix for a call-up."

Botterill characterized the market as favoring players with term, thus the Sabres were unable to move any of their other impending unrestricted free agents. He had discussions with teams regarding longer-termed players as well, which he believed set the table for continued talks in the offseason. 

His willingness to trade players with term stems from the same hard truth that convinced him to trade Kane rather than pursue an extension. The current mix of players, he said, has not worked 

"I'm not putting the blame all on Evander Kane," he said. "There's a lot of blame to go around - coaching staff, management, players - we have to be better in certain situations. The bottom line is the mix that we have right now was not working, so we had to make adjustments. 

"So yes, Evander Kane was [traded] because we were able to get some assets back that were very helpful for our organization. Throughout the summer here, spring and summer, we'll be making more adjustments to help our organization."

Video: Sabres Now (2/26/18)

Botterill referenced the team's recent road play (5-1-1 in its last seven games) and improvement on the power play (league-leading 18 goals since Jan. 7) as areas of growth but referred to the team's 9-18-4 record at home as "unacceptable."  

That disappointment came to a head during an afternoon game against Los Angeles on Feb. 17, which Buffalo trailed 4-0 after two periods. Botterill was paying particularly close attention to that game because of the team's performance in its last afternoon home game, a 7-1 loss to Dallas.

"You're looking for a response," he said. "You're looking for a performance. I understand where we are from a skill-level [standpoint] sometimes, and that's on management to improve our skill level. But from a compete standpoint and preparation, we have to get better as an organization." 

While deadline day may have passed, that goal remains the same.  

"The trade deadline day is so built up, but it's not the only time to make adjustments to your team," Botterill said. "We had some good conversations. We understand a little bit of where it is. 

"We're going to continue to evaluate some of our younger players that we have on our team here and I think our conversations set up well for the draft and the summer, when we're going to improve our team again and certainly make adjustments to our group."

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