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A Frank Exchange of Ideas: An Interview With Die By the Blade

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Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Boron, from Buffalo Sabres sister site Die By The Blade, was kind enough to answer some of Avalanche fans' burning questions. Thanks, Andy!

Our contribution can be read here.

What kind of player are the Avalanche getting in Zadorov?

Zadorov has the potential to be a very special player, but every good thing he does tends to come with something he also needs to improve. First things first, though -- the dude is an absolute beast on skates at 6'5'', 220lbs. He will lay down some of the biggest hits you'll see all year, but often puts himself out of position in doing so. He's got a pretty big shot, but hasn't gotten the power play time to develop into the man on the point. His skating is smooth and he's generally a good passer, though at only 20 years old -- and with just one pro season under his belt -- he still makes some bonehead plays every once in a while. He's not as dominant as you would like in his own zone, though he'll definitely keep guys out of the crease, and he barely saw any PK time in Buffalo, though his positioning improved as the season went along. He's not there yet, and will probably take another few years before he puts it all together, but he has all the tools to become a top pairing defenseman. For now, pencil him in as an above average second pairing guy.

Zadorov faced some team discipline last season for missing some meetings and a flight. Do fans need to pitch in for an alarm clock or initiate a wake-up call system?

Ha, either that or a better travel agent. Zadorov had two incidents fairly close together where he missed a meeting or a practice, and got benched for it. He seemed genuine in his apology (I believed him, for what it's worth) and I'm not overly worried about his maturity, though you did hear the occasional rumbling from the locker room that he was a mild head case. Nothing official though.

Can Grigorenko still meet his potential under current and former coach Patrick Roy?

Grigorenko's NHL career thus far has been the epitome of mismanagement. He was kept up in his rookie year due to pressure from a GM and coach on their way out, despite being nowhere near ready physically to play in the big leagues. Over the next two seasons, he was benched for dubious reasons, played almost exclusively on the fourth line, was put in situations that seemed like the worst way to take advantage of his talents, and shuffled back and forth between the QMJHL, NHL and AHL. On the other hand, during the rare occurrences where he did get to play with other talented NHL players, he never really impressed or produced on the level you expect from a guy with his elite hands and hockey IQ. Maybe being reunited with Patrick Roy will help him out (honestly, I hope it does, I feel bad the guy based on the way the Sabres used him) but he does need to continue to improve his strength and skating, which are still about AHL-level.

Does JT Compher have NHL upside?

Compher does have NHL upside, but I think his ceiling is as a good third liner. He's one of the hardest working prospects out there and was named captain of the University of Michigan's hockey team, so you know he has the mental makeup to get to the pros. Whether or not he can get there on grit and heart remains to be seen, as his offensive upside is limited, but I'd place my bets on him becoming a pesky, fan-favorite third liner two years from now.

How does the fan base feel about what they had to give up for O'Reilly and his impending contract extension?

The initial reaction was generally that Murray overpaid to get O'Reilly, but I think that's partly due to the fact that Sabres fans have been conditioned over the past decade to value picks and prospects more highly than NHL players (the long history of guys leaving town will do that to you) and because they didn't quite understand how good O'Reilly and McGinn really are. In my eyes, the price was fair, but most of that depends on the development of the potential that Buffalo sent your way. Tim Murray seems to make trades that can work out well for both sides, and if two or three of the pieces you got realize that potential, it'll be a fair deal. As for O'Reilly's extension, Terry Pegula's suits are lined with $100 bills so that shouldn't be a problem.

How do you see all of your new pieces fitting together for next season?

New Sabres coach Dan Bylsma has already named O'Reilly the #1 center, which will allow Jack Eichel to center the second line and will ease his transition to the NHL a bit. I fully anticipate McGinn to play win on the third line with Brian Gionta and either Zemgus Girgensons or Sam Reinhart at center, and ohmygod I'm getting giddy just typing this. Crafting the Sabres roster next season, compared to last year, is like going from eating the day old bagels out of the dumpster to a five star buffet. I don't even know where to start but I know when it's all over I'll be fat and happy.

Are your snacks hidden away before McGinn gets to town?

Does he have a history of stealing snacks? Should I put a lock on my fridge? Did I take the buffet thing too far?

On a scale of gingivitis to hepatitis, how terrible of a disease are the Detroit Red Wings?

They're more like the common cold. You get one every year, they annoy you for weeks, but they aren't quite as hard to deal with as they were when you were a kid.