The NHL Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching. For most, this is a time of excitement as their favorite hockey team turns their sights towards late-season rental players, who could potentially end up being the key to a run at the Stanley Cup.
For Buffalo Sabres fans, the impending trade deadline brings angst and unsettled feelings.
Once active buyers at the deadline, Buffalo’s poor performances over the past few years have understandably turned them into annual sellers.
The only issue here? Buffalo has been pretty bad at that too.
In 2017, the Buffalo Sabres rattled the Earth’s foundation, acquiring AHL’er Mat Bodie for Daniel Catenacci. Depth body for depth body, nothing too huge.
In 2016, the Buffalo Sabres traded away Jamie McGinn for a 2016 third round pick. That third round pick turned into the rights of Jimmy Vesey. Remember that? Good times! A 2017 third round pick was acquired for Mike Weber. That pick became Oskari Laaksonen. Buffalo also pulled off a minor league blockbuster in hopes of shaking up Rochester. Again, nothing too much to write home about.
In 2015, the Buffalo Sabres were more active but still did not inspire much confidence. Brian Flynn was dealt for a 2016 fifth round pick, which became prospect Vojtech Budik. Chad Johnson and a 2016 third round pick were acquired in a deal for Michal Neuvirth. The aforementioned third-round pick became Dan Bylsma. Torrey Mitchell was dealt away for Jack Nevens and a 2016 seventh round pick (Vasily Glotov). Chris Stewart was also dealt away for a 2017 second round pick (Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen).
Yes, the first (and proper) response is that Buffalo was not rolling in the trade-eligible assets. Who wants a player who can barely cut it on one of the worst hockey teams in the league? Some general managers can see the value.
A nice change of pace occurred in the offseason when Jason Botterill arrived and dealt away Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno in a deal for Marco Scandella. Fans can only hope that rolls over into the deadline next week.
The fear is growing among the trade-shocked fanbase is Botterill may, in fact, end up overshooting the mark and overvaluing the market for potentially-available Sabres players.
Murray was very much guilty of that, which leads to the irrational fear with Botterill.
Tim Murray also often spent time talking up his ability to make a move when it was necessary. The only issue is that Murray often was guilty of falling in love with his own players and not pulling the trigger on deals that could have potentially made the franchise better.
It is hard to not speak in certainty but we all look back to the strongly rumored and highly reported (thanks, Pierre LeBrun) Chris Stewart for Ryan Spooner deal that was reportedly on the table back in 2015. It appears Buffalo has acquired talented prospects from past deals but things do not always work out that way.
In his first trade deadline as general manager, Botterill most certainly deserves a clean slate. As fair as a clean slate would be, we’ve seen Sean McDermott inheriting the Bills now-defunct playoff drought, the poor trade history very much comes with the territory.
Many fans want to see Botterill get quality for whoever is dealt by close of business on Monday. Evander Kane is the apple of Buffalo’s trading eye but Botterill’s asking price appears to be understandably high. If all goes well, Kane will be traded before other franchises start to get their hands on Rangers forward Rick Nash. Nash’s potential trade package directly affects the value of Kane, as we have seen in recent weeks.
Botterill has a lot of critics already, for better or for worse. A strong showing at the impending trade deadline could certainly turn those critics into believers.
Heading into the Trade Deadline, what is your confidence level in Jason Botterill?
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