Jason Botterill’s tenure with the Buffalo Sabres will ultimately be remembered by these moves.
Merely three weeks after getting a vote of confidence from the Pegulas, the Buffalo Sabres owners, former Sabres general manager Jason Botterill finds himself without a job. The Pegulas bought the Sabres in 2011 and now they have their fourth general manager with Kevyn Adams.
Botterill’s tenure with the Sabres started off with high hopes in 2017. He had just helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups under the tutelage of general manager Jim Rutherford. Botterill was highly thought of by many teams at the time, so it looked like a good hiring.
Unfortunately, it turns out he wasn’t ready to be a general manager. Though the Sabres improved slightly in point percentage in the last two seasons Botterill was with the Sabres, it simply wasn’t good enough for a team that demanded results.
General managers make good moves and bad moves. Botterill was no different. So let’s look at the moves that ultimately defined his tenure with the Sabres.
Drafting Casey Mittelstadt in 2018 is something Botterill will be remembered for. He was drafted with the eighth overall pick. This wasn’t a good pick, as Mittelstadt has struggled in his first two seasons and even had to spend some time in the AHL during the 2019-20 season.
What makes it more painful is who was drafted after him. The list is pretty impressive and it includes Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens, Martin Necas of the Carolina Hurricanes, Owen Tippett of the Florida Panthers, and Erik Brannstrom of the Ottawa Senators.
It’s still too early to call Mittlestadt a bust, but the Sabres were clearly expecting him to contribute more by this point than just 39 points in 114 games.
There’s also the Wayne Simmonds trade at the 2020 trade deadline. It cemented the Sabres status as buyers, from some odd reason. Also, it showed how desperate Botterill was to make the playoffs. The fact that the Sabres didn’t make the playoffs despite an expanded postseason likely led to his departure.