At least one more year. That is the message being sent out by Buffalo Sabres Team President and Co-Owner Kim Pegula in regard to the status of General Manager Jason Botterill. Botterill was hired by Buffalo in 2017.
Pegula made the announcement Tuesday evening to the Associated Press, shortly after the National Hockey League announced ending it’s coronavirus-truncated regular season. With approval from the Player’s Association, the league will put into place a 24-team playoff to determine a Stanley Cup Champion for 2020.
The end of the regular season also means an end to the Buffalo Sabres season as the team fell just outside of the playoff bubble. This marks the ninth consecutive year the Sabres have failed to reach the playoffs.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Botterill said the development of in-house talent will continue to be a top priority.
“We’ve felt that a key focus for us is to get players developing within our organization, within Rochester,” he said. “Understanding how to win in Rochester and coming up to the National Hockey League.”
Botterill mentioned the development of Goaltender Linus Ullmark and former number one overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin as examples of the team trending in the right direction.
For Team Captain Jack Eichel, Botterill said the former number two overall pick continues to grow in his leadership role.
“Some of the biggest growth you see every day on the ice with Jack Eichel, just his two-way game I thought really improved this year,” he said. “Going against every team’s top players, really handing those matchups and really carrying us as a leader in those situations. But as he continues to grow as a captain you learn different things, you learn how to handle different situations, and he’s certainly grown from that standpoint.”
Botterill said in the current hockey environment, leadership comes from a group effort and the current woes being felt by the hockey team should not be laid at the feet of Eichel.
With the Sabres being near the salary cap heading into the offseason, Botterill said he has not been handed any spending mandate from Pegula, but said due to the coronavirus pandemic the league and it’s teams are facing unprecedented times financially.