In a summer blockbuster, the Buffalo Sabres have sent Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis, and a third round pick to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville, and a fourth rounder.
First reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie and then confirmed by Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star Tribune, this trade gets the Sabres the higher-end defensive help they still needed in Scandella, while essentially swapping some bottom-six forwards and mid-round draft picks.
The big piece in the trade is the acquisition of Scandella, a 27-year old left-handed defenseman who plays an aggressive, all-around game at both ends of the ice. Standing 6’3’’, 208lbs, Scandella can eat big minutes (he averaged about 22 minutes per game in the playoffs), can contribute in both areas of special teams, and put up the second best points/60 among Wild defensemen last year, despite having a bit of a down year after recovering from offseason surgery.
As for the forwards involved, welcome back Jason Pominville! As Joe Yerdon noted on Twitter, the whole Sabres rebuild started by trading Pomminville to the Wild all those years ago, and now he’s back in Blue and Gold. Pommer still had decent production for the Wild last year, scoring 13 goals and 47 points. For reference, that would have tied him for third on the Sabres last year with Sam Reinhart.
Obviously, Pominville’s best days are behind him and his $5.6 million cap hit isn’t great, but Pominville still outscored both Ennis and Foligno combined last season in half as many games. Could he function in a top-six role in Buffalo? Maybe, but I think he’d be better served in the Matt Moulson role, a third-line guy who gets top power play minutes.
In terms of salary, the 27-year old Scandella is locked in at a $4 million cap hit through the 2019-20 season, which is nice, while the 34-year old Pominville has two years left at $5.6 million, which is not. Ennis and Foligno combined for a cap hit of $6.825 million last season, so the Sabres are taking on a bit more salary here to upgrade their blue line, as Russo also reported that no salary was retained in the trade. If the team wants to buy out any player, they have until 5pm today to do so.
In exchange for Scandella and Pominville, the Sabres sent two of their longest-tenured players packing in Foligno and Ennis. They’ll miss Foligno’s energy and toughness on the third line, but in Ennis they got rid of a player who has been nothing but disappointing over the past few seasons. If he’ll ever return to form, a change in location (and the ability to play with his real-life best friend in Jared Spurgeon) might do the trick.
Both players are good locker room guys and stand-up fellas, but from a purely on-ice point of view, it’s hard not to think that Jason Botterill did a heck of a job making his first big-time move as Sabres GM.