There are a multitude of good young players that could have the potential to help the Sabres in their rebuild. While all eyes are on the prize there are a few good young players that maybe worth asking about.
It has become glaringly obvious that the lack of scoring strength is of the greatest importance. Setting records for the lowest number of goals scored in the modern era is not something the team will want to continue going forward. It would be understandable if the team was willing to give a few players time to develop their game moving forward, but the need is to find players who can contribute now.
The need for leadership is also obviously absent at this time given the culling of the veterans with any value at the deadline. It's not that we expected anything different, but they still need to be replaced. This is a subject for a future post and as such, will not be discussed here.
With so many good players its hard to choose who will be worthwhile? While sticking to the parameters set out by our new fearless leader, Tim Murray, we will need young players with great up side, further along in their development, while bigger and stronger than the average player, translation larger than 6ft. Hockey IQ has been discussed, but is harder to determine without actually scouting each and every player. I wish I had the time or the resources to do that.
While Luca Sbisa may be the teams best player, we do not need any more young defencemen. Jakob Silfverberg is a kid who seems to been on the right track. At 6'1 and 200 pounds, he certainly fits the bill.
Reilly Smith is 6 foot, but a little light at 186, but his 51 points this season can't be ignored especially considering he is not on the first line. He provides great secondary scoring and will continue to grow and may be able to be convinced to add little beef over the summer.
We won't even mention Dougie Hamilton as he would be an immediate upgrade on the back end, but Boston is not moving him any time soon.
As a young and rebuilding team, they will not let go of any of their young talent. They too need goal scoring and size and grit, so anyone they already have is locked down tight. With Burke running the show for now, he would be more likely to trade his draft pick this year for one of our potential young guys.
That said, you can cross Monahan and Baertschi off your wish list.
Elias Lindholm is the teams only potential difference maker on the front end. Just one year removed from his draft year, he is a potential star in the making. At 6'1 and 187, he still needs to fill out to help him reach his full potential. I would be shocked if the Canes were willing to part with him, but after another poor season they may be willing to shake things up. They may be willing to move him for a more established piece, not wanting to wait for him to fully develop due to a fan base that appears to be unhappy with the loosing streak.
Justin Faulk is another D man who would look great in Blue and Gold, but again the depth on the rear guard may this trade unlikely.
Brandon Saad, 6'1 and 202 plus he has a cup under his belt. He has trained with to of the best linemates in the league and has come up big. His confidence is through the roof and his 47 points as a rookie is great to see, but may be attributed more to his line mates than his own actual ability. I would still take him in a trade.
Nick Leedy might be a nice addition on the back end to fill an offensive need. I'm not sure how great that need is given the guys in the pipeline.
There are a few players here that would look great in Sabres colors, but most of them are locked up solidly and aren't going anywhere. Sabre fans will have to dream of players like Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.
The only one that may have fallen out of favor is Ryan O'Reilly. At 6 feet and 200 pounds and coming off a 64 point season he is a player that may have fallen out of favor after the negotiations went sour last time. His offer of a hometown discount to stay with the Av's may not be enough to keep him in the Mile High area.
While Cam Atkinson is an interesting player, he clearly doesn't fit the bosses new model for players. He is clearly too small despite his scoring ability. The role of water bug has already been filled.
Ryan Johansen is the kid to go after. HIs big frame is exactly what the team is looking for. At 6'3 and 223 pounds this is the kid we can build the team around. He is an RFA at the seasons end and may be looking for more money than the team is willing to part with. The Jackets have $51 million already tied up in 16 players, but will they spend to the cap.
With Kirby Rychel in the juniors lighting it up, The Jackets maybe willing to make a trade to solve a defensive depth issue in anticipation of next year.
This is another young team that was forward thinking enough to lock up a bunch of their star potential players for the long haul. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin ar eboth locked up tight and won't see daylight for at least 3 more years.
Gustav Nyquist is a great young player who is coming into his own this year along side his Hall of Fame mentors in Datsyuk and Zetterburg, but again he is below 6 feet and doesn't fit the model.
While there appears to be a laundry list of possibilities here, there are really only a couple that would make me smile to see them as Sabres.
Eberle - no, too small and fraile, Hall - Hell Yes, Gagner - no, size again and is past the age to add weight. David Perron, Yes has it all. Nugent Hopkins - hmmm maybe, taller but a light weight. Yakupov - No way!! Headcase. Don't need that.
Two guys with potential jump on this list; Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. Both have size with Huberdeau needing to add some muscle, but both can light it up. Unfortunately, these guys will be Panthers until they say they don't want to be there and not before.
Tyler Tolloli, may be close to the right size, but playing with all the fire power on a stacked L.A. teamand only racking up a few points over 60 plus games, doesn't leave me wanting to add this kid for the future. As for the rest, I'll pass on them all.
Charlie Coyle is a big boy who can put up the points, not great numbers, but ok, His line mates may have something to do with that as well. While Mikael Granlund is a beast, he is also on the small side at 5'10 186. Nino Niederreiter put up some point, but not many over the 81 games he played.
Alex Galchenyuk may look like some goofy high school kid, but don't let that fool you. He has the size and definitely has the skills to lead a team in the future. This is another kid that if he were to become available, you back the money truck up to his house.
Seth Jones is obvious, but we are trying to be better offensively fro next year. Craig Smith is another big kid who is willing to work hard to score goals. His 52 points this year as well as his great year with team USA are indicators this kid is going to be good.
Not much to see here, to say the least. Not many prospects headed there way for next year either. The only player I would be interested in would be Jagr. Simply for his work ethic to teach the kids.
After the fleecing given to Isles fans it would be ruthless and down right dastardly to take any more of their good players from them. Snow is under this delusion that he has all the right pieces in place to be a dominant force in the NHL...poor Garth...
Derek Stepan, this kids is right on the cusp. 6 feet tall and 196 pounds make him so close that his point production would make the difference. After 3 strong season with the Rangers, he makes the grade. With the Rangers money issues, he may be a guy they feel they can get some value out of if they need to clear some cap space.
Mika Zibanejad is another who fits the bill. 6'2, 211 scored 33 points this year plus has a relationship with Murray. He could be a nice 3rd or fourth liner who can chip in every now and again.
Not even going to mention the D man they locked up looonngg term.
While Sean Couturier looks good, he is a light weight and doesn't put up great numbers, Brayden Schenn really falls in the same category but with slightly better production. This off season is going to be interesting for the Flyers as they have a lot of money tied up in a lot of players. 17 players @ $64.5 million.
Mikkel Boedker is a player who appears to be headed in the right direction. While he fits the size bill his scoring has increased dramatically this season. He also has tons on international experience on his resume.
Tyler Gaudet is a kid that maybe ready to make the jump to the show after a strong year in the minors.
With the wealth of talent on the Pens, it's hard to find much room for the young kids to develop. Not to mention they have been constantly trading away youth at the deadline every year to make another cup run.
Nothing to see here.
Logan Couture would be nice, but he too is nicely wrapped up for the next several years.
Tomas Hertl is an interesting option. He is a big kid who only played 37 games, but put up 25 points. It will be interesting to see what this kid can do over a full schedule.
Vladimir Tarasenko is the star of the bunch in St. Louis, great hands and good size. This kid is one of the bright spots of the future. The only knock on himis that he did play on the under performing Russian team during the Olympics.
Jaden Schwartz, while gifted offensively, he is a little small for the new and improved Sabres.
Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat are the only two possibilities on a veteran heavy Lightning team. Both have good numbers, but Palat is on the smaller size, weighing in at only 180 pounds despite being 6 feet tall. He would obviously need some direction in that department.
James Van Riemsdyk would be a nice addition, but we all know that's not happening. What is happening is a guy named Nazem Kadri. He has a great scoring touch and has an attitude to go with it. He has really played well this year despite all the press about him moving and the teams unhappiness with him. He is a little light, but may be able to improve on that with the right training. 50 points in 78 games is good for a kid the Leafs say doesn't work hard enough.
While we all know about the Kassian for Cody trade, it has become apparent that one team got a good player who is producing while the other...not so much. Kassian was expected to be a power forward for the Canucks, his lack of production has put that in jeopardy. While he is their best player that fits our criteria, there is only one thing to say. "Sorry Nucks, no trade backs"
Bo and Hunter are still a few years away in their development.
44 points in 80 games isn't too bad for the big Marcus Johansson. With his 6 foot 2 inch 205 frame riding up your back, it could make a few D men a little nervous. I really thing that while the caps will be looking to make some moves, this isn't one of them. Unless a quality player is headed the other way.
If Winnipeg is dumb enough to put Kane on the market, Tim Murray should offer almost anyone on the roster to get the deal done. I would even be ok with the second overall pick as a piece of the trade. This guy is a beast and always looks mean on the ice. He plays with an attitude and Buffalo could use 10 guys like him, IMHO.
Michael Frolik appears to have returned to his previous goal scoring ways when with Florida, but he appears risky, as this return may be an indication of his work ethic. He may be the opposite of Kadri who worked despite the circus going on around him.
I hope I haven't missed anyone the readers think is worthy to pursue.
Who would you put at the top of Tim Murray's shopping list?