January 2, 2020
Media availability (7:50 p.m.)
Jason, what do you get in Michael Frolik? (Paul Hamilton – WGR 550)
Jason Botterill: Well, as we’ve talked about before, we were trying to add to our forward group here. and with Michael, we like his even-strength play. We think he’s a very strong 5-on-5 player. He’s also a player that has a championship pedigree. He’s been in been in the playoffs before, won a Stanley Cup. And you look at how we’ve played over the last few weeks: I think we’ve played pretty well at 5-on-5, but our special teams have to be better. We think Michael can come in and help us with our penalty kill. So we see him as a winger that can play up and down our lineup, and certainly excited to add him.
Can you confirm what’s out there, no salary retained in either trade? (Mike Harrington – The Buffalo News)
JB: Yep, that’s correct.
Did you need to clear salary in one deal to make the other deal? (Paul Hamilton – WGR 550)
JB: Yep, and that what’s we’ve been talking a lot about trying to make a situation, a defenseman for a forward. Obviously, brought in another team to make it happen, but certainly excited to have Michael a part of our group here.
Do you expect him tomorrow, visa situations being as they are? (Mike Harrington – The Buffalo News)
JB: No, it’s probably going to be a couple of days and stuff from that standpoint. So, I think it’d be a bit of a surprise if he’s here before Saturday. I think more realistic would be next week.
Did you feel that there was a necessity to make a move at this point given that this team has been slumping for a little bit? (John Wawrow – Associated Press)
JB: Well I think that we haven’t been very happy with the results at all. I would say, since coming back from the break, I think our team’s performed fairly well, but we haven’t gotten the results. So you’re always looking to try to find the mix and I think, like I just said before, I think at 5-on-5 we’ve done pretty well, but we do have to improve our special teams. I think that Tampa Bay is a good example. I think we’re coming on the PK but later on in the penalty kills giving up a late goal, that certainly has been very hurtful for our team. On the flip side, we’ve tried some things on the power play. This time of the year you’re looking for a spark from some of your top players, and that’s what we need.
One of the big focuses over the past month or so has been players publicly or privately or whatever asking for trades. What do you make of that and how do you deal with that given that you’re trying to build something here and you’ve got players who seem to want out? (John Wawrow – Associated Press)
JB: Well look, we have a lot of conversations with our players throughout the year and, as I’ve said before, I’m going to keep those conversations private. I can’t control what a player or his agent ends up saying to the media, but it also doesn’t impact or dictate what we’re going to do with our team here. The bottom line is, I think you look around that room, there’s always going to be some exceptions, there’s always going to be some players who are disappointed with their role or want more ice time or opportunity, but it’s also our belief what we’re trying to do is create more competition within our team. We have to build up our depth. We have to build more internal competition for roles. There’s always going to be players that are a little disgruntled, but I think for the majority of people, our players, are very excited to be working with Ralph and excited [about] where our team’s going.
How much was the Dalton Smith move a message to Tampa and how much of it was a message to your own room? (Mike Harrington – The Buffalo News)
JB: It was a situation where I think it’s a great story. I think here’s a young man who came to our organization and developed. Chris Taylor is in charge of developing our young players at age 20, but he’s also in charge of developing players of all age. And here’s a 25-year-old that came into our organization and worked his way up to earn a National Hockey League contract. And, yeah, he brought grit, it was great to see him out there and it’s great to see him earn that contract and I also thought Jake McCabe stepping up in that situation, our guys played with team toughness and that’s what we have to do in the second half.
Lazar has showed a lot of grit since he’s been up here and it’s resulted in a couple of goals. And I saw that in training camp too, could it have been a situation where maybe he should have been here? Because he brings an element that maybe some of the other forwards don’t bring. (Paul Hamilton – WGR 550)
JB: Well, I think what’s been great with working with Curtis is he had a fairly strong training camp. When he was sent to Rochester, he asked a lot of questions on what he had to work on. And you look at it right now, we’re a team that’s struggling with faceoffs, he’s adding an element to the faceoff. He’s getting in on the forecheck and maybe not his goals aren’t the prettiest but he’s going hard to the net from that standpoint. He brings elements that maybe we’re lacking a little bit and he’s certainly taking advantage of it. I think that’s what — for us to have success here in the second half — that’s what we going to have to continue to have: players stepping up. And with a player like Jeff Skinner going down, is an opportunity for, you know, extra ice time for other players to step up and hopefully have a big role in our team.
You needed to make one move, I know, to get to the other, but was there any pause given to Scandella to the team you’re chasing and you still have to play three more times? (Mike Harrington – The Buffalo News)
JB: Look, I think Marco’s played very well this year. I think he came into the organization and the first year had a strong year. Last year, even in his own beliefs, maybe didn’t play up to his potential, but he’s done a very good job and I think that’s why there was more of a demand for him up there. We’re in a situation right now that we have to improve our own team and we felt this is a trade we wanted to make to improve our group here in Buffalo.
Do you still want to add to the forward depth? (Joe Yerdon – The Athletic)
JB: It’s a situation we’ll continue — we don’t have anything else to announce today — but we will certainly continue to look at it.
Did Montreal call you first or did you call them? How did this come about? (Jim Fink – Buffalo Business First)
JB: We’ve been talking to some different teams about scenarios. Originally, look, I’ve checked in with (Montreal GM Marc) Bergevin on some couple things and I think I reached out to him and that sort of probably started it.
Can you confirm that [Vladimir] Sobotka’s season is done? (Mike Harrington – The Buffalo News)
JB: It’s something that we’ll probably re-evaluate later on, but it’s more likely that’s probably the case. But we’re still hopeful that there could be something later on.
Ralph said yesterday he’ll play players who want to be here. Is that his decision or is that organizational decision? (John Vogl – The Athletic)
JB: Look, anything that goes on the ice, and from our standpoint of bringing players in and who to call up, look, I’m in constant conversations with Ralph on that. You want players who want to be a part of things here. We’ve talked a lot about it, about players waiving no-trades to come to Buffalo, players signing with Buffalo; that’s how we’re going to have success eventually. I think players show more energy, more determination out there that want to be a part of it, want to be a part of the solution this year.
I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this: Do you strongly suggest what you would like the lineup to be or is that up to the coaching staff? (Paul Hamilton – WGR 550)
JB: That’s up the coaching staff from that standpoint. And look, I think you’ve seen a lot of different creative lineups this year with Ralph. He’s been willing to make adjustments to our group. He’s willing to go 11-and-7 or 12-and-6. But I know they have a lot of internal discussions there on things and feel very comfortable with it.
You’ve had 41 games to evaluate now. What’s it [inaudible]? (Bill Hoppe – Olean Times Herald)
JB: Well, look, I think Ralph understands the chemistry with our players and relationship with our players and has been willing to have the hard conversations with them. He also understands where we’re at right now, and understands that there’s positive steps we’re taking, but we have to continue to work hard to get better results here right now.