Much of Tuesday was spent building up to a formal announcement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of the NHL's 24-team Return To Play format to conclude the 2019-20 season. This also meant the conclusion of the 2019-20 season for the Buffalo Sabres, who officially miss out on their ninth consecutive season of postseason hockey.
However, the bigger story in Buffalo may be the return of Sabres general manager Jason Botterill for his fourth season with the team.
Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula has told John Wawrow of the Associated Press that Botterill will be back for the 2020-21 season, whenever that may be.
“I realize, maybe it’s not popular with the fans, but we have to do the things that we feel are right,” she said. “We have a little bit more information than maybe a fan does, some inner workings that we see some positives in.”
Since being hired in 2017, the Sabres have finished 31st, 27th, and 25th in the NHL under Botterill. In that time, players such as Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, and Robin Lehner have been moved, and went on to have greater success with other teams. Outside of the acquisition of forward Jeff Skinner, there has been little added to the Sabres roster that has helped them become competitive.
Botterill will go through his fourth NHL Draft at some point this summer. The Sabres will have a 6.5% chance in the lottery to win the first overall pick. The team has just six picks going into the 2020 NHL Draft; a first, second, fourth, fifth, their own seventh round pick and another seventh from the Dallas Stars.
In three years, just two of Botterill's 18 draft picks have played in the NHL - Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt.
With a thin prospect pool, limited draft capital, cap issues, and an underwhelming NHL roster, Botterill will have a lot of work to do moving forward.