Two in the Mailbox: Deadline Special

In honor of the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s time once again to take a few reader questions.  

I’m looking forward to Monday’s deadline as I think the Sabres are poised to move at least two or three players off the roster. And there’s potential for even more moves both out and in. Unless Kevyn Adams makes zero moves on Moday, it will be hard to say it was an underwhelming deadline.

As we touched on this week’s podcast, I’m hopeful that Adams will bring in a player who will be in Buffalo not just for the final weeks of the season, but well into the future. A younger player, ideally with term, who could add to the growing confidence over what Adams and the Sabres are trying to build. That’s easier said than done, but it wouldn’t be the first time the organization brought in a notable piece for the future at the deadline. Here’s hoping the next one comes on Monday.

Before we get to the questions, we should celebrate the beauty of the Armchair GM submissions on CapFriendly. It’s been far too long since we shared any of these, so let’s make up for lost time with some Very Bad Trades.

A few thoughts here. First, Kaapo Kahkonen has had a decent season for the Wild but he hasn’t yet risen to the level of a number one goalie. Marcus Foligno has also carved out a very valuable role in Minnesota, so the idea that just Casey Mittelstadt (whose has been very underwhelming when not injured) could fetch you both of these players is silly. Yet, that deal is trumped by the following offer of the Arizona Coyotes offering a first and a third for Victor Olofsson and recent healthy scratch, Anders Bjork. I’m not sure how to arrive at that particular valuation, but it seems…inaccurate. Olofsson ought to have some value this summer (or at the deadline) but Bjork’s value will have cratered and while the Coyotes do need players on contracts, they also desperately need draft capital.

Sure, I guess. There are other players in the NHL though. We don’t always have to do Pat Kane.

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On to the questions.

@buffalocentric – If you’re picking giveaways, promotional nights, what are 3 you would choose?

This is a GREAT question. It’s easy to carp about the Sabres not doing enough cool giveaways, but if you don’t have any suggestions as to what they should introduce, you’re only doing half the work.

The easy answer here is more bobblehead nights. Specifically fun crossover (hi Kim) versions. For example, Tre White in goalie gear. Teams have even done versions where they put a player into a costume of a popular TV show. But I’m going to pass on bobbleheads for now in lieu of three other preferences that I have.

  1. Bisons (or Bills) Night – I’ve written about this previously, and it’s something that a lot of other teams do quite well. Namely the Blues, Kings and Ducks. Other teams have dabbled with crossover as well, whether via the basketball team they share an arena with or a football team. That we’ve now seen the Bisons do a Sabres night, I’m hopeful that the Sabres would return the favor. Bisons themed warmup jerseys would look super cool and would make for great auction items after the game. Other baseball and opening day tie-ins could be done in arena to make for a fun night.
  2. Mini Jerseys – This particular idea is something I saw the Ducks do a couple years back as part of a ticket promotion. They gave out collectible mini uniforms from throughout their history if fans bought into a certain ticket package. The Sabres could do the same thing, offer a series of jerseys for a mini pack purchase. Or they could set up a handful of games, lets say five for argument’s sake, throughout the year and fans who attend those games get a mini jersey as a giveaway. So if you wanted the full set, you’d need to attend all five games. Or if you just wanted one or two, you could pick those games off the list.
  3. Hall of Fame or other alumni nights – This could work a few different ways. First off, it’s a shame that the Sabres Hall of Fame isn’t active. That’s an easy night to promote each year when a new inductee or inductees are honored. Especially with some of the candidates available, the team would sell a boatload of tickets just on nostalgia. So simply bringing back the Sabres Hall of Fame is one option. It would be important to pair some sort of giveaway or trinket with the night, in my opinion. The other approach would be to simply honor various Sabres alums throughout the year Bring them back to drop the puck, play some highlights pregame and figure out a cool promotional item to tie to them. For big enough names, maybe it’s a bobblehead. The more extreme version of this is specifically for Dominik Hasek and it would pair with building his long overdue statue in alumni plaza. That may be a different argument for a different blog post, but long story short; unveil the statue, do a party in the plaza, do a replica statue giveaway or promotional sale like the RJ bobblehead from a few years back.  

@mirrorman_js – Do you think Hinostroza gets dealt and if so, is he someone that may come back to the Sabres over the Summer?

He hasn’t shown up on a lot of trade bait boards, but he’s kind of a perfect trade candidate. He’s cheap, quality depth who can help fill out the bottom six of a contending team. I’d stop short of saying I expect him to be traded, but I definitely think that makes the most sense. As for bringing him back, that seems fine. I think you can throw a net out in the summer and find four more players in the same profile, so I don’t feel like they’d miss him if he isn’t re-signed.

He’s meshed well here and has been moderately productive. It comes down to where he’d fit and which other players are coming in. Jack Quinn will almost certainly have a top six role. Kyle Okposo will be around again too along with Victor Olofsson and maybe even JJ Peterka. Are the Sabres adding any other forwards via trade before free agency? If there’s a fit for Hinostroza I say bring him back. But I wouldn’t be concerned if Sunday wound up being his final game in a Sabres uniform.   

@buffalobobz – What veteran goalie do you think the Sabres add to pair with UPL next year?

This is a really tough one to handicap. The free agent goalie market is quite thin on talent, so there’s little out there I’d be excited about. Craig Anderson has been pretty steady this year, could they bring him back? Maybe even give him a modest raise to help close up their space to the cap floor? I wouldn’t been too keen on Braden Holtby, but he’ll be unrestricted again this summer. He’s probably on their radar.

One name I’ve been wondering about is Matt Murray. I’ve previously stated my distaste in the idea of acquiring him, but there’s some reason to believe the Sens are going to ride with Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson. Murray was dreadful before being sent to Belleville but he had a nice bounceback from January to mid-February (including a shutout of the Sabres). He’s back on the shelf now and I think health could be a big concern. He’s has two years at $6.25m, so he’d help the Sabres towards the cap. I think he’s a name to keep an eye on.

The obvious drawback on Murray is his recent play. Aside from that nice chunk of games in January and Februray, he has been extremely underwhelming. For a team that will want to take a step forward, I don’t think he’s the answer. But I feel that a trade is. Semyon Varlamov is one name worth inquiring on and I think Jonathan Quick is another. Quick feels like an unlikely target and Varlamov has a modified no-trade clause, but they both fit the profile what I think the Sabres should be looking for. Veteran talent with short-term remaining on their deals and a moderate cap hit. Neither would cost much to acquire nor would they have the contract term that would block UPL, Devon Levi or Erik Portillo.

@coach_vaner – We have ideas who’s moving….Who would you like to see the Sabres add?

Let me start with my obligatory Roope Hintz mention. There are few things in Buffalo’s stable that I wouldn’t want Kevyn Adams to trade for him. But he’s not moving at the deadline. He’s probably never moving.

We discussed this a bit on the podcast this week and most of the truly intriguing names who could shake free due to cap restrictions would be summer moves. I think there’s a scenario where Anthony Cirelli could be acquired from Tampa. But that would be a draft day move. So I’ll stick to something I think could potentially get done at the deadline.

With that in mind, I’ll put Damon Severson out there. The Devils are out of it and there has been some reports that the two sides may not be close on a contract extension. Severson still has a year left at $4.16m and he plays the right side. He’s 27 and a UFA after this deal, so there may not be much long-term value at play, but even in the short term he would fill a massive need for the Sabres. His counting stats are very strong despite his GAR number being substandard. But he rates out very well defensively and could even chip in some power play time in a pinch. I think he’d be a good initial partner for Owen Power.

One other name from New Jersey that I’d be interested in is Miles Wood. He’s been injured all season but I like him as sort of a discount version of Alex Tuch. He’d be a middle or bottom six addition, but I like the idea of plugging in his speed and size to one of those bottom two lines. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights this summer, which could affect any team’s desire to add him.    

@lazytown716 – So…Jerry Hughes? Looks like there’s not a lot of room left for the OG of the defense, would be sad to see him go, is there any way he winds up staying?

It would be disappointing to see Hughes leave as a free agent, but I wonder just where he fits into Buffalo’s defensive end rotation. With Basham, Epenesa, Lawson, Miller and Rousseau all in the mix, it will probably be hard to justify keeping him. Even if he took a steep pay cut. The consequence of big swings like adding Von Miller is that there are some painful departures as a result. I know the Bills tendered Ryan Bates but maybe he gets an offer they simply can’t fit in their cap model after their other signings. Hughes might be another casualty in that sense, albeit as a UFA. Just have to chalk it up to the cost of doing business and look ahead to the shiny toys they have as replacements.  

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