As the trade deadline is fast approaching, the upcoming unrestricted free agents are at the center of many trade rumors. It's difficult to look at any deadline article and not find Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson, Steve Ott, or even Henrik Tallinder mentioned. However, as Tim Murray stated when he first took the job, the team is in last place, so no one on the Sabres is safe. If he wants to move the team in a new direction for the future, other players could be traded as well. Who could this surprise player be? It could be one of the Sabres top two scorers, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis.
Ennis and Hodgson are clearly two of the most talented players on the roster right now. Both have scored exactly the same amount of goals (14) and assists (16), totaling to 30 points. The only player with more points this season is Matt Moulson, but he has only scored 25 points in a Sabres uniform.
Both Ennis and Hodgson are far from perfect players. Both have been criticized in the past for their defensive play, and neither seems to fit the mold of a top line center on a competitive playoff team.
The Sabres are likely hoping to find that number one center with one of their numerous top picks in the next two years. Whether that is Sam Reinhart or someone else, it does not matter. Whomever it is pushes the rest of the centers down the depth chart, which obviously includes Hodgson and Ennis.
Hodgson is playing in his first year under a six year contract paying him an average or $4.5 million. Ennis is an RFA at the end of the season and could command similar money. Do the Sabres want to pay that much for a third line center?
This is all before mentioning Zemgus Girgensons, who Murray has raved about and would like used at center. Where does he fit in to the puzzle?
Ennis and Hodgson seem to fill the same role for the Sabres, and there simply may not be room for both. The fact is that both players have an upside and could likely land you a pretty nice return, or even could be a solid piece in a package deal. This makes even more sense if the Sabres decide to keep Matt Moulson or bring in another top six forward, thus the team wouldn't be giving up too much offense. That is, if the Sabres actually plan on trying to be good in the McDavid lottery season.
At one point the Sabres had absolutely nothing down the center of the ice. Due to this, Darcy Regier made it his mission to draft as many centers as possible in hopes of landing that elusive number one center. He may never have gotten that star player, but he has given the Sabres plenty of names to work with. However, do all the centers in the system fit together? Murray's actions at the deadline will certainly be a big answer to one of the organization's looming questions.