Are the Sabres going to be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline? Do they have anybody to move? What are they in need of? These questions all need to be answered heading into the trade deadline. We are at officially 27 days before the deadline and counting. The Sabres are holding steady to their 7th spot in the Conference and looking to move up. So what are the answers to these questions?
Are the Sabres going to be buyers or sellers?
This question is going to probably be the hardest to answer. The simple answer is it depends. If someone is looking to take Afinogenov or someone else off our hands, then we will be sellers. There really is no one on the roster that someone is specifically looking for unlike the Brian Campbell situation last season. Therefore, it somewhat makes the Sabres buyers, I would assume.
Do the Sabres have anyone to move?
Any team usually have players they can move to make a deal. There are specific players that the Sabres could move and it wouldn't impact the team immensely: Max Afingenov, Tim Connolly, and Ales Kotalik. All three are free agents at the end of the season and most likely only one will be retained by the Sabres.
Afinogenov is a no brainer in this situation. The Sabres are actively looking to shop him around and Afinogenov really has played his way out of the lineup. Currently hurt, he really has no trade value and probably won't even play in the NHL after his contract expires. But, for the Sabres it would be a good thing if we could get something for Max before he heads back to Russia.
Kotalik could be interesting trade bait for teams that need a streaky winger. He always seems to play hot and cold and can turn on the physicality when he wants to. But when he is cold, he shuts his game down and really isn't heard from in long stretches. Kotalik has 26 points on the season, but only 6 in the month of January. He is rather clutch though on the shootout. Since the inception of the shootout, he has the most game clinching goals with 10 and scores 51% of the time.
Connolly is the wild card. Considering he is so often injured he could be a considerable risk for any team that would want him. But when he does play, he is really damn good. Connolly has played in 18 games this season and has 18 points (10 goals and 8 assists). He has scored a goal in four of the last five games and really been a catalyst for the Sabres in this nice winning streak. He could be very helpful for a team that needs a good center, the Florida Panthers.
What are the Sabres in need of?
This is the major question that needs to be answered. The one position that the Sabres are safe in is goalie. Ryan Miller has been playing much better this season and Patrick Lalime is holding his own enough to keep the Sabres in the games that he plays in. The offensive side of the puck is getting better. The Sabres seem to be holding their own at center with the return of Tim Connolly. The wings seem to be alright but more we need more production out of them, especially Pominville and Kotalik. Defense may be the major question mark. The Sabres have eight defensemen on the roster with the callup of Butler. Butler will stay with the Sabres throughout the season. They do need a good puck moving defenseman though. Someone like Bouwmeester. The problem though with Bouwmeester would be that there is nothing that the Panthers would need in return. They need a center and the main question is would they take a chance on Connolly and in return would we want to give him up at the level he is playing with Vanek and Stafford.
All these questions will be answered by the front office and by the fans numerously before the deadline arrives. Rumors will fly like crazy as they always do during this time of the year. Every week we will take a look at the rumors about the Sabres and see how true they actually can be.