As we move on in the season, time moves forward as we all know, and the trade deadline approaches. With the Expansion Draft a looming event this offseason, I think we may get lucky and see teams offload players to try and avoid taking losses without any return. In addition, there's your general playoff/tank trades that will occur where the contenders get stronger, and other teams commit to a rebuild. With that, I've basically just looked around at rumors and am trying to see if the Sabres have a fit anywhere that they aren't being mentioned as of this moment.
Anthony Duclair: After making quite the impression last year, Duclair has cooled off significantly, registering just 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games. While there's never a rush to trade a young player and overreact to a down sophomore year, the Coyotes are at least listening to offers on Duclair.
I'd imagine that they aren't going to sell Duclair on the cheap just because of a bad season, and with Max Domi hurt they may be even less inclined to make a trade. I think in a world where the Sabres shed Evander Kane or Matt Moulson, Duclair would be an awesome addition to the Sabres core. Realistically though, I'm not going to wait around and expect GMTM to do much more than call to inquire on the price.
Islanders Need a Wing: I can't remember who, but I just today saw a reminder on Twitter that the Islanders signed Andrew Ladd to a deal for $500k less than Kyle Okposo. As of this moment, I think we know the Sabres are the clear winners in this scenario. The Islanders aren't producing, and with John Taveras becoming a UFA in two seasons, it's wise they find him someone to play with. Maybe the Islanders go for a big name target like Matt Duchene (more on that below), but I think the Sabres could fit nicely here.
We're the sort of bargain bin option when it comes to trades. If you can't land the big fish, the Sabres could dangle a Matt Moulson reunion tour, Evander Kane, possibly even Zemgus Girgensons or Tyler Ennis. Compared to what you have to give up for a Duchene, I think there's a real fit here if the Islanders decide not to give up too much. I'm not very well versed in their talent on the back side, I'd imagine that Leddy/Hamonic/Hickey would mean Buffalo sends more than just Evander Kane, but it looks like there's some options, and if not there's always a chance to grab picks to package into another trade.
Matt Duchene: The only real rumor that I've seen Duchene mentioned in is with regards to the Islanders being interested. But for me, when a name like Duchene comes up, you'd be stupid not to imagine the possibilities. If you had ROR, Reinhart, Eichel, Okposo and Duchene you'd have an argument for the best top lines in the NHL.
Unfortunately, I just don't think we have the pieces to make this trade, and even if we do, they'd probably be better spent on defense. My only point of wariness is right now we have our expansion protection set. Trading for a defenseman makes no sense, but trading for a forward like Duchene makes sense because you'd be a playoff team immediately.
Kings need a goalie?: As we all saw recently, the Kings goaltending situation without Jonathan Quick is extremely substandard. While Budaj and Zatkoff may not play like that every night, apparently their play is concerning enough that LA may have to consider running to the trade market. It's a sweet victory for the Sabres, because I think if LA heads to find a goalie, they should come right to Anders Nilsson. For a band aid until Quick returns, I think Nilsson profiles as a great candidate to fill the gap, and if the Sabres can squeeze value from the sheer dumb luck we seem to have with backup goalies, I'm all for it.
Ben Bishop/Marc Andre Fleury: I'm lumping these two together because they're both goalies who will likely have to don new uniforms because there is a younger, cheaper, and equally talented option that will be protected in expansion on their team. While I have become somewhat of a Robin Lehner apologist, and think he has done nothing to merit all the hate he gets, flat out a player like Fleury or Bishop makes the Sabres better instantly.
I don't think that Fleury is quite up GMTM's alley. He's not as big of a body as GMTM seems to prefer, and he's on the wrong side of 30 at 32 years old. Ben Bishop is a little harder to shake, though. Tim Murray likes big goalies. Ben Bishop is a big goalie. At 30, you maybe could imagine a world with Bishop as your starter and Ullmark as your backup? Lehner traded away, and Petersen in the pipeline. And while they're both great goalies, it's no secret that Tampa and Pittsburgh need to trade them to avoid losing franchise goalies for literally nothing. This could be the cheapest price you see for guys like this in the trade market for years to come. While Bishop may become a UFA in the offseason, I think whoever trades for him will be looking to lock that down for 5 years. Mark me interested in Bishop, not in Fleury.
With that, I'm just interested to hear what other names you've seen and how the Sabres fit, or if you think the Sabres won't be wheeling and dealing at the deadline.