The first NHL trade deadline for the Buffalo Sabres in the Jason Botterill era may not have gone how some were expecting. They only made one trade in moving Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks for a conditional 2019 first round pick, conditional fourth-round pick and forward Danny O’Regan.
Players like Josh Gorges, Benoit Pouliot, Robin Lehner and Zemgus Girgensons remained on the roster past the 3 pm EST deadline.
Fans are understandably disappointed in another dull event in the midst of a rough season.
Having said that, I tried to warn you earlier this week that this was coming. Again, before I go any further. I understand the frustration.
Fans saw players like Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Ryan Hartman, Tomas Tatar and Paul Stastny get moved for non-conditional first round picks as part of the package.
So, why couldn’t Botterill get that for a 26-year-old potential 30 goal scorer? Let me give you a few reasons.
The biggest reason was the off ice reputation. Like it or not that played a huge factor into how today unfolded.
When I checked on the status of Kane Sunday night I was told by one source “rep is killing him.”
He’s been a much better teammate and person over the last year and a half in Buffalo. Once a reputation is established though, it’s hard to be removed. Teams were not lining up to add him to their team already on track for the playoffs.
Darren Dreger of TSN mentioned earlier in the week in an interview on WGR550 in Buffalo that interest in Kane didn’t really pick up until this week.
Four teams were involved to a certain extent throughout the day. The only real contenders were the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. As Botterill mentioned in his post-deadline press conference. Only the Sharks presented a legitimate offer.
When you don’t have a big market how hard can you push trade demands?
The last thing that wasn’t in the Sabres favor was that Kane is an unrestricted free agent in July. Players who fetched first-round pick returns like Brassard, Hartman and Tatar all have term remaining on their contract or are restricted free agents at the end of the season. Makes it an easier pill to swallow for General Managers.
We did see some UFA players get the first round pick too, but both were probably overpayments, as well as had a bigger market.
As for the complaint of not moving anyone else off the roster. Are you really surprised? Gorges, Falk and Pouliot can barely stay in the lineup on one of the worst rosters in hockey. Other clubs are not really lining up to acquire those players and give up assets in the process.
In terms of Lehner, the goalie market wasn’t there to make the trade. The only NHL goalies that were moved was Petr Mrazek a few days ago. Scott Wedgewood and Darcy Kuemper were also swapped in the Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes deal.
We’ll see what happens with Lehner in the summer.
It’s not a flashy day for Botterill, but realistically it’s the best outcome with how the deadline played out.
O’Regan is a nice depth add that can turn out to be a good bottom six addition. In the meantime, he’ll help the Rochester Amerks in their playoff push.
So, take a deep breath. It’s not really as bad of a day as you think. It’s unfortunate, but not the end of the world. Botterill will do most of his work on the roster in the offseason at the NHL Draft and free agency.