The current state of the NHL has evolved to a state in which there are really only two days when teams make deals to shape their rosters; the draft and the trade deadline. Sure, there are still deals made between those two dates, but they’ve become few and far between in recent seasons.
Both dates are tantamount to holidays for hockey fans with deadline day being particularly significant for fans, pundits and teams. For a club that has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Buffalo Sabres have had their fair share of interesting deadlines.
Between another year without the playoffs and the COVID-induced delay, there hasn’t been too much to talk about from a Sabres perspective. A few minor signings and, of course, the hiring of Kevyn Adams, but it’s been a quiet few months on the hockey side. It’s a different story where the Pegulas’ lifestyle is concerned, but from a strictly hockey perspective, it’s been a low key summer.
As a result, I thought I’d spend a little time combing over the club’s history at the trade deadline. Whether or not the 20-21 deadline plays a major role in the shaping of the roster or long-term success of the club can’t be known, but there are 49 deadlines that have played such a role in one way or another.
I’ve compiled what I feel are the seven most notable deadline trades in club history. I worked to rate each deal based on the clout of each player involved and both the short- and long-term effects the pieces had on the organization. I allowed for a few day’s worth of wiggle room from the deadline, but no more than four or five days. The trades are listed in chronological order as opposed to a proper ranking. Continue reading →
The massive Rick Martin/Don Edwards combined trade tree got a couple of new branches this offseason. The official designation on San Jose’s pick saw the selection moved to Anaheim as part of the Brandon Montour trade. The other pick from the Evander Kane return, a 2019 fourth, was eventually moved so the Sabres could select Aaron Huglen in that same round. Ryan Johnson was picked with the 31st pick, received from St. Louis.
Colin Miller also became part of the trade tree as the 2021 second rounder included in the Ryan O’Reilly trade was sent to Vegas in exchange for the defenseman. This is sure to grow even larger in the coming years, we’ll see how long it takes for the next branch to sprout .
Thursday’s acquisition of Brandon Hickey and Mike Sislo was a minor trade in almost every sense. None of the players involved are trending to become stars in the NHL but Jason Botterill showed a fair bit of savvy in swapping Hudson Fasching for Hickey and Sislo.
Fasching was pretty well down the pecking order on the wing at the conclusion of last season with a host of younger players poised to vault him. Cliff Pu and Victor Olofsson will arrive for their rookie seasons this fall and they’ll add to a group that includes Justin Bailey, Danny O’Regan, Nick Baptiste, Alex Nylander, CJ Smith. Andrew Oglevie, Rasmus Asplund and Sean Malone are other forward prospects who are going to garner a fair amount of attention as well. Even without the additions of Pu and Olofsson on the wings, Fasching was falling out of the spotlight.
It’s been noted that his healthy scratch in the playoffs likely sealed his fate with the organization and if the trade didn’t make it clear enough, it is fairly evident that Botterill wasn’t planning on tendering Fasching with a qualifying offer. Botterill was able to acquire negotiating rights to a player he has more interest in rather than letting the burly winger walk for nothing. Continue reading →
Perhaps the biggest obstacle the Sabres have faced as they slog through their rebuild has been the inability to turn the mountain of assets they originally acquired into tangible NHL talent. Some of that has been inflicted on the trade market – packaging assets for NHL talent – while some has come at the draft table.
The picks and players that can be traced back to the original trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders have offered the Sabres very little in the end. This was one of the first trade trees I had ever explored, intrigued by the stacked deck Tim Murray and Darcy Regier had combined to create. At one point the Sabres had turned Vanek and a pair of second round draft picks into Matt Moulson, Torrey Mitchell, Josh Gorges and four draft picks (a second and third in 2014 and a first and second in 2015).
Now that the trade tree has aged (poorly) the Sabres are looking at a fairly lackluster return for what they’ve sent away. Torrey Mitchell was a terrific fourth line asset but not exactly a long-term option for the Sabres. He only yielded a seventh round pick and although Vasily Glotov is an extremely fun prospect to have in the pipeline, the chances that the Sabres see much of anything come of that trade are minimal. The same can be said of nearly every other portion of the tree. Moulson and Gorges hit the wall hard and Robin Lehner’s days in Buffalo seem to be numbered. The only player in this entire trade tree who has the opportunity to offer the Sabres any long-term return is Brendan Guhle.
The Vanek trade tree went south in a hurry, with the prospects attached to the numerous picks failing to develop in a meaningful way while the Sabres opted to flip the premium pick they received for a goaltender whose future in Buffalo appears to be questionable.
*One quick note on the format of the trade tree. I’ve added logos next to the players selected with the respective picks used in the deals displayed. This was meant to add some clarity to the layout as not every pick was used by the team which acquired it. For example, the Canadiens sent the pick they acquired for Gorges to the Chicago Blackhawks, who picked Chad Krys with the selection. This came in handy on some of the larger trees which I’ve worked on as it illustrates the end point for some of the draft picks which, at times, traded hands multiple times.
Jason Botterill made a big move on the blueline today, acquiring Marco Scandella from the Minnesota Wild in a package that included old friend Jason Pominville. Chris and Tyler offer up our thoughts on only dealing Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis to get the deal done and what we think it means for the Sabres plans in free agency and how it affects the outlook for the 2017-18 season.
Chris and Tyler devote more time to this episode than usual as we got a little off track discussing the Bills injuries of late and the debate around Buffalo’s injury troubles. Our main point of focus is to analyze Tim Murray’s trades and whether or not he’s been successful on the trade market during his time as GM of the Sabres. You can catch the episode here or you can subscribe and listen on iTunes or tune in via Sticher.
The third round of the NHL Draft is hardly an electrifying portion of the event. The picks all hold fair value on the floor and in trade negotiations, but in either case you’re not referring to any blockbuster moves.
However, the Buffalo Sabres’ own involvement in the 2016 third round was actually somewhat interesting. Not so much for the picks they made, but for the ones which found their way to other teams.
At one point or another, the Sabres held five picks in this year’s third round. Buffalo would only wind up making a pair of selections in the round after entering the weekend with a trio of picks. Cliff Pu would be selected 69th (nice) and Casey Fitzgerald 86th while the other three selections previously held by the Sabres found their way to other cities. Continue reading →
There’s no doubt that Tim Murray has put a definitive stamp on the Buffalo Sabres roster in the year and a half that he’s been on the job. He’s managed to proceed with an aggressive pragmatism that has kept the Sabres active on the trade front while maintaining a strong foundation through the draft.
Murray has made 16 total trades by my count since taking over. They range from tent-pole blockbusters to minor-league transactions. But everything has rolled together to get the Sabres to where they are today; on the cusp of leaving the tank in the dust and returning to the ranks of contenders.
They aren’t there yet, however. If they managed to ascend to 10th this season it would be a minor miracle considering their lowly 2014-15 season. However, the last four months have been filled with exciting acquisitions that will affect Buffalo’s on-ice product both in the short and long term.
I’m expecting at least one more trade from Murray before training camp begins at the end of the summer as he’s still lacking a capable top-four defenseman and it appears as if the shallow UFA market is all but dried up. While we wait to see if Murray adds to his lengthy list of transactions, I’ll take a look back at his deals in an all too early ranking of his trades to date. I will rank the trades numerically and on a scale of zero-to-five scowls – since everyone likes to poke fun at Murray’s serious demeanor. Continue reading →
Last season I put together a pair of trade trees after Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller were moved. The Vanek tree has already sprung a few branches and could grow larger if Torrey Mitchell is moved this season. Ryan Miller is actually tied into a much larger trade tree which I only thought traced back to Alexander Mogilny. As it turns out, it is part of a trade tree that goes all the way back to Don Edwards. Continue reading →
Tim Murray may have inherited a clunker of a roster from Darcy Regier, but the organization still had good bones despite the kamikaze job Regier did on the roster prior to his departure. Continue reading →