Acquiring another defenseman may not be at the top of the list of things to do for the Buffalo Sabres. They have more pressing needs to address on the roster, but that shouldn’t turn them away from opportunities to improve their roster.
Jonas Brodin allows the Sabres to solidify the left side of their blue line if he’s available in the offseason. His name came up during the trade deadline, but ultimately he remained with the Minnesota Wild. The 26-year-old has one more year remaining on his contract after this season and could be moved in the summer as the Wild look to remake their roster.
If you look at the Sabres blue line they could use some help on the left side. They have an overabundance of defenseman on the right side, but the roster thins out behind Rasmus Dahlin on the left. Jake McCabe is inconsistent, Lawrence Pilut hasn’t had the opportunity to play in long stretches, and Jacob Bryson may need another season in the AHL before he’s ready.
The Sabres also do not have a player that posses the skillset of Brodin. The Swedish defender skates well and is one of the best shot suppression defensemen in the NHL. According to Evolving Hockey, he’s top five in the NHL over the last two years in shot attempts against and shot quality against per 60 minutes in their RAPM model among defenders to play at least 200 minutes.
Over the last two years he’s led all defenseman to play at least 200 minutes in even strength defense in the twins goals above replacement model. Brodin ranked 32nd among all defenseman in total GAR over that same stretch.
Brodin has been relied on heavily with the Wild to play the defensive situations against the opponents top lines. In each of the last two years he’s had a 41% offensive-zone start rate, making his shot suppression numbers even more impressive.
He’s not going to give you much on the offensively in terms of actual production and on-ice impact. Brodin makes his money in the defensive end and getting the puck going the other way so his teammates can get back on the offensive.
In Minnesota, Brodin has played primarily with Matt Dumba in two of the last three seasons. Dumba had the best year of his career while playing with Brodin during the 2017-18 season and was having another good season this year with him. Dumba reminds me of a player currently on the Sabres roster, Brandon Montour. I believe they have a similar skillset, but Dumba offers more to his team on the offensive side of the game.
This is the other part that intrigues me with the idea of acquiring Brodin. The Sabres could place him alongside Montour and hope that he can have a similar impact on him like he did with Dumba. I’ve wrote before how I feel that Montour may best suited as a defenseman to receive a lot of defensive zone starts due to his transition game being his best attribute. Putting one of the best defensive zone defenders with him could be the perfect mix of a pairing that can handle the majority of defensive zone situations for the Sabres.
The actual act of acquiring Brodin is where this idea starts to become difficult. Minnesota’s new general manager, Bill Guerin, is trying to reshape his club on the fly. The Wild would likely want a good forward in return for Brodin. The Sabres don’t have a lot to offer teams in trade discussions at forward.
The thought of trading Sam Reinhart isn’t the best idea and if you want to do that, this isn’t the type of deal you would move him in. Dylan Cozens is one of the only high-end forwards in system, but it’s unlikely that he would be available. Nor should he be used in this type of move if there is a trade scenario involving Cozens.
Minnesota-native Casey Mittelstadt could be a player that intrigues the Wild, but his value around the league may be low at this point. At this point the only way a trade works to acquire Brodin would be to build a package that intrigues the Wild and it may have to revolve around Mittelstadt.
As I mentioned, acquiring another defenseman shouldn’t be at the top of the to-do list in the offseason for the Sabres. Brodin would be more of a luxury acquisition but it would help solidify their defense group. It’s been a while since the Sabres had a blueliner that is as strong in his end of the ice as Brodin.