As the trade deadline gets closer much of the talk will continue to be on what the Sabres can get for their pending UFA’s. We’re in the middle of a full blown rebuild and much of the focus will be on acquiring picks and prospects. Since the majority or all of the Sabres deals will be involving pending UFA’s teams will most likely not give up their top young players for a player their not sure will be around past this year. Buffalo has also stated their not interested in a 5 year rebuild which means they will have to be aggressive in trying to pursue some players. Murray has already stated he would target young players who are already established in the league or are starting to establish themselves. It won’t be easy to find these type of players as they’re typically not made available but Buffalo has established a strong pool of picks and prospects to make a push for some of the games young talent. So who might be some of the players Tim Murray picks up the phone to inquire about?
Brandon Saad- LW Chicago Blackhawks, 21 years old
If I were Tim Murray Saad would be at or near the top of my list. Saad’s combination of size and skill projects him as legit top 6 power forward who could average anywhere from 25-30 goals a year. He wouldn’t be easy to get, but could be obtainable. Chicago has big contracts they’ll have to take care of soon with Kane and Towes while having other big ones already in the books with Hossa, Seabrook, Keith, and Crawford. Chicago is going to want roster players at reasonable cap hits so they can remain flexible with their roster while building around one of the league’s top cores. To get Saad the conversation would probably start with Ehroff and would have to include a young forward such as Ennis or Foligno.
If the rumors are true and Evander Kane is available Buffalo should make a hard push to try and acquire him. The big question will be how much will it cost to get him. At 22 he’s already a 30 goal scorer and it isn’t cheap to acquire those types of players when they are available. If the Jets are looking for first round picks a deal is very unlikely as Buffalo won’t give up a potential top 5 pick. If they want young roster players then maybe a deal could be reached. If Buffalo is serious in getting him it will cost them a minimum of one of their top young defenseman in Ristolainen, Zadorov, or Pysyk and one of their young forwards along with probably a combination of picks or mid-level prospects. So the question is with that type of haul would it be worth it?
Florida is extremely well set up down the middle with Barkov and Huberdeau which could lead them to dealing Bjugstad if they got a good offer. Bjugstad is huge at 6’5 215, with his rare size he is a strong 2 way player who also posse’s good offensive instincts that could project him as a #2 center that plays all situations. The cost could be reasonable too, Florida would probably want a Defenseman which Buffalo has plenty of. Other than that the Panthers may ask for a mid-level prospect or pick to seal the deal. The biggest question for Buffalo could be where they see him fitting in. They have a #2 center in Hodgson and with Girgensons moving back to Center the question could become do we need another #2/#3 Center.
Beau Bennett- RW Pittsburgh Penguins, 22 years old
Bennet is another forward with good size and skill that could project to be a top 6 player. Bennett also posse’s a strong 2 way game witch will make him an all situations type player. A deal with Pittsburg could be tricky as they have strong core of Defensive prospects and probably wouldn’t be as interested in acquiring one from Buffalo. A guy like Matt Moulson is exactly what they could use going forward but won’t deal Bennett if they expect Moulson to walk following the season. Another thing that could complicate a deal is the injury Bennett sustained which has caused him to miss the majority of the year.
Gibson might be the hardest out of anyone on the list to acquire. He’s one of the top three goalie prospects in hockey and considered the top goalie prospect by some so he could be untouchable. A deal for him would come down to how much faith Anaheim has in Frederik Anderson going forward. The price is tuff to judge to with young goalies of his caliber not being traded much. The Ducks reportedly turned down a deal for him and a first to acquire Miller so it won’t be easy if Buffalo wants him bad. Ducks are another team looking for cap flexibility going forward so one condition could be a roster player that won’t have a high cap hit. If Buffalo is trying to add higher end goaltending talent to their system trading for a goalie is a safer option then drafting one, even with the price being higher.
Buffalo’s main goal going forward is trying to find more viable scoring options as that’s the main thing their system is lacking going forward. A goalie that’s on the cusp of making the NHL could be high on Buffalo’s wish list too to give Enroth and Hackett competition once Miller moves on. It’s still Buffalo’s best interest to build through the draft to have a strong foundation going forward. But in order to make this rebuild shorter they’ll have to explore option outside the organization.
So how about it DBTB who’s on your wish list for Buffalo to target?