The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and questions abound what - if anything - the Buffalo Sabres will do. From the looks of it, the Sabres may have a quiet trade deadline, perhaps making one or two small deals.
But ahead of this year’s trade deadline, let’s take a look at what the team has done in recent years around the deadline, if anything.
Let’s start with last season. The trade deadline day was February 26, 2018 and the Sabres were 19-33-0-11. With 49 points, they were last in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the NHL.
The Sabres - and general manager Jason Botterill - made only one move at the trade deadline, sending Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks. In exchange, the Sabres got a 2019 conditional first-round pick, AHLer Daniel O’Regan and a 2020 fourth-round pick.
Following the trade deadline, the Sabres went 8-12-0-1.
Last season was Botterill’s first with the Sabres; the prior three trade deadlines we’ll look back on were all under general manager Tim Murray.
The trade deadline in 2017 was March 1 and the Sabres’ record was 26-26-0-11. With 63 points, Buffalo was 13th in the Eastern Conference and 22nd overall in the NHL.
It was a quiet trade deadline for the Sabres, which is perhaps what’s to be expected at that point in the standings. Murray and co. made only one AHL deal, swapping Daniel Catenacci for Mat Bodie from the New York Rangers.
The Sabres finished out that season going 6-11-0-1.
The year prior, the Sabres were struggling and Murray made several deals at the trade deadline or in the days leading up to it. In 2016, the trade deadline was February 29. The Sabres were 25-31-0-7, second-worst in the Eastern Conference and 26th in the NHL.
Six days before the deadline, the Sabres send defenseman Mike Weber to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 2017 third-round pick. That pick would turn into Oskari Laaksonen.
Four days later, the Sabres completed an eight-piece trade with the Ottaw Senators, but in the end, it wasn’t a very consequential deal for Buffalo. Jason Akeson, Philip Varone and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc shipped out with a conditional pick. Michael Sdao, Alexander Guptill, Cole Schneider and Eric O’Dell came back.
Finally, Murray sent Jamie McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2016 conditional third-round pick. The Sabres ended up trading that pick - for Jimmy Vesey - and finished the season going 10-5-0-4.
The last year we’ll look back on is 2015. The trade deadline was March 2 and the Sabres were 19-39-0-5. With just 43 points, they were last in the Eastern Conference and the NHL.
The Sabres completed two trades around that deadline - a few weeks prior, actually. They swapped Jhonas Enroth for Anders Lindback and a 2016 conditional third-rounder. They also completed the blockbuster deal that shipped out Brendan Lemieux, Joel Armia, Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers and a first-round pick in 2015 for Jason Kasdorf, Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane.
After the trade deadline, the Sabres went 4-12-0-3 to finish out the season.
The trade deadline can mean a lot, or not, depending on where a team is in the standings and how much of a playoff push they hope to make that season. It’s thinking about the immediate future vs. a longer-term future; the rest of this season, vs. seasons ahead.
At this point, it seems like the Sabres are putting more weight on their prospects and internal development of players, so it wouldn’t be shocking if they didn’t make any moves ahead of this season’s trade deadline.
Either way, stay tuned right here to Die by the Blade for full coverage of any Sabres deals that may or may not happen in the next few days.