McGee's thread on 3 trades you would make to improve Buffalo had me thinking of a bunch of random ideas... enough that I fake traded about 75% of the roster to half the teams in the country. However, I've really only posted a few of those ideas, and while the play in games have started, I figured I could lay out a few more ideas over what is hopefully another few months of hockey!
My goal is to post four threads in the coming month or so. Each thread will cover each division, and will lay out a possible trade Buffalo could make with each team in that division. I won't do anything directly with our new tentacle-y friends in Seattle, but the upcoming expansion draft will be taken account into each trade with all of the other teams. Finally, I'll give each trade a fairness level (as in, how even do I think the trade is for both sides), as I'm certainly forcing fits with some teams.
I am going to start my way out West and work back towards the East Coast. That means the Pacific Division is up first!
The Trade: Buffalo trades Marcus Davidsson, CJ Smith, 2020 5th <> Anaheim trades Beniot-Olivier Groulx, 2022 6th.
Probably the most boring trade of the lot, and it comes up first! Damn you Alphabetical order!
I had some fun ideas with us going after Rackell... but I just don't see a realistic match between us and the ducks. I do really like Groulx as a prospect though, so he was my target. Wheeler (from the Athletic) has compared him a bit to Pageau. He gets solid reviews on his defensive play, and will need to see if he has the offensive chops to translate... But I think he would have a realistic shot to fill the cheap 3C or 4C roll 2 years after that whole is likely vacated by Asplund (whether Asplund improves more than that or moves on to a change of scenery will have to be seen). So he's a good prospect to add to the pool.
Buffalo moves on from Davidsson, who might be ready for AHL marination a little earlier than Groulx would be. But really this move is all about clearing cash, sending CJ Smith to Anaheim to eat his expensive AHL contract. The 5th is hopefully insurance on getting the deal done, and getting my choice of Groulx within the Ducks middle tier of prospects. Since Buffalo is trading a player in Smith who could fill in at the NHL level in a pinch, we add a future pick as well, but overall this is one of those trades lost to the news cycle.
I'm going to give this trade a C+, because I like Groulx but it isn't interesting enough that it is likely to occur.
The Trade: Buffalo trades Will Borgen, 2020 2nd Round pick, 2021 6th <> Arizona trades Christian Dvorak, paper Marion Hossa.
The Coyotes need some additional scoring... but lets be real, they have Taylor Hall on the payroll with the #1 pick going to a lottery winning team? I hope Laffrienie is already looking at condos in the greater Pheonix area.
While they have been a budget team for ages, what they really need this upcoming season is cap space. They are eating one more year of the Hossa contract, and have to get through one more year with Stepan, Grabner, Goligoski, Hjalmarsson and Demers eating up about 24.3~ mil in cap space. If they are going to make a run at keeping Taylor Hall, or even a depth player like Soderberg, they'll need cap space. Hossa's LTIR coming off the books allows them to act a bit freer with the contracts this upcoming season.
The target for Buffalo is Christian Dvorak. Signed through 2025, he would stabilize the center position behind Eichel for a few years. Would he be the long term answer at 2C? Probably not. I think he could be a great 3C for years to come, and he has also played on the wing with success. But he would be coming to Buffalo to play Center and give Cousins time to acclimate (and Mitts and a 2020 8th overall selection time to marinate). He did miss a lot of time in 2018-19, but played 70 games this year before the Covid freeze.
Taking on the dead weight of Hossa's deal minimizes what Buffalo has to give up. Borgen goes as the main piece of the deal, and likely becomes a 7th D this year. He has the size to make an impact, and with the older blueline contracts expiring next year in Arizona, would have a path to longer term success there. The Coyotes can even squeeze in protecting him alongside OEL and Chychrun during expansion. Buffalo sends along a 2nd this year, as well as a 6th next year (you'll see me dumping 2021 picks very often in these threads... with the scouting department gutted I can see the Pegulas not restaffing it for a year to save some cash, and directing Adams to trade out of next years draft. They can use the work completed by the scouting staff for this upcoming year that was provided before they got fired).
I think I am underpaying here, and I'm subtracting from Arizona's weakest position at center. So I'd grade the deal as a D+ , but struggling to see a more impactful trade the two teams could make.
The Trade: Buffalo Trades Brandon Montour, Jacob Bryson, 2020 #8 overall, DAL 2020 7th, BUF 2021 4th <> Calgary trades Juuso Valimaki, Mark Jankowski, 2020 2nd, 2020 SJS 4th.
Juuso Valimaki is about to be in a pretty unique situation in the NHL. He was on track to make the Flames roster out of training camp with ease... until a torn ACL ended his season. He's been rehabbing this whole year, but from what I am reading the Flames do not intend to have him on the potentially active roster. He's too young at this point, and you don't want to throw him right into NHL hockey, I get that... BUT this will also mean he is going to be exempt from selection in the Seattle expansion draft. This is huge, and is why the Sabres have to pay with the #8 overall selection. While that #8 overall would obviously be exempt as well, Valimaki is going to play in the NHL next year, and I think he is the type of player who can immediately make an impact. He would be a brand new Joker for us this year.
The price for his future services will be steep, however. The big piece is that #8 overall selection, who I think the Flames would use on someone like Holtz or Perfetti if still available, though I don't think they would be opposed if Drysdale fell. But I think they look for scorers. They get to keep their own 1st as well, who they likely use for center depth. Montour goes, and becomes a likely target for Seattle to select. This is why Bryson tags along, as a potential longer term replacement on the Blueline. Jankowski comes to Buffalo as a change of scenery option to give one last shot in the leg to his career. I think a move like this would say more about Asplund, and giving him 3C minutes, as Jankowski likely becomes the 4C or 13th forward with Lazar as the 14th forward. Buffalo's D pairing does even out pretty well, however. A top four of Dahlin - Joker , Valimaki - Risto could be extremely competent, and all four would be guaranteed to come back since Valimarki would be exempt from selection.
Trading the #8 overall and NOT solving the 2C problem!?!? In this case, I think Valimaki is worth it! I'll give this trade a B- , because I don't see the Flames moving Valimaki for a fair value trade... which I think this is.
The Trade: Buffalo trades Marcus Davidsson, CJ Smith, Remi Elie <> Edmonton trades Kriss Russell (20% AAV retained, Bonus pre-paid by Edmonton, to be bought out upon arrival), rights to Jesse Puljujarvi, Matej Blumel
I had to fill in all the teams... so that's what this trade is, a fill-in. I thought about re-hashing a Nuge-Hop trade for the millionth time on DBtB, but really with one year left is that who we want to target? He would fit the 2C hole, but at a pretty penny of a cap hit, and would cost a lot for a one year rental likely to walk in free agency.
So instead we are helping the Oilers clear some cap. The key pieces in this deal come from Edmonton's side. Kriss Russell hasn't worked out for the Oilers (shocker), and the Oilers like many teams could use some space. The Russell contract is kind of buyout friendly for a team like Buffalo, who could eat a little dead cap for a year pretty easily. If bought out, his cap hit will be 3M for 20-21, and only .5M for 21-22, and Edmonton shares a tiny bit of pain with us on the buyout by retaining 20% AAV. Puljujarvi is the (likely?) best player changing hands, and finally gets out of the Oilers organization. He likely finishes the year out overseas and plans to join Buffalo in the hopefully post Covid 2021-22 season. He'll be left unprotected, but if Seattle takes him over anyone else we expose... I mean they have to take somebody so that is a win in my book. Matej Blumel had a cool name, so I added him in to even the player count.
Buffalo sends Marcus Davidsson as the best prospect in the trade, who still is very much a prospect. CJ Smith and Remi Elie head along to fill out the Oiler's AHL roster (if there is one) and if not help save a few dollars for the Pegulas by moving their contracts. Both are RFA's either this year or next, so Edmonton can figure out if they think these could be good depth players or not. But most importantly they get the cap space needed to try to add more offensive firepower and/or blue line depth in free agency.
What a boring trade... D+ because it would be a cap dump, but unlikely Puljujarvi goes for this little. But the Oilers won't part with Broberg or Bouchard, and outside of that the prospect pool is a little on the thin side, so Pulju is the target coming back in this admittedly unlikely trade.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
The Trade: Buffalo Trades Jack Eichel, Jake McCabe (50% retained), Kyle Okposo, rights to Pilut <> LA Kings Trade 2020 #2 overall, 2020 LAK 2nd, 2021 STL 2nd, 2022 LAK 2nd, 2022 LAK 3rd, Alex Turcotte, Sam Fagemo, Rasmus Kupari, Adrian Kempe, Jonathan Quick (1.6 mil retained)
This is the only time I'm trading Eichel in this entire series. So I'm getting my money's worth with the return.
I'll go over the ransom we get for this haul first, which truly is unreal. We get two top 5 selections out of the deal, and with 2019 #4 overall Turcotte and to be select #2 overall in 2020 Byfield. That becomes a the rock solid #1C and #2C for the next decade. One of those players will have Cozens and Reinhart on their wing, while the other will have Skinner and Olofson. We'd still have our #8 overall, and with that selection we take Cole Perfetti, who is ready to ball out on the third line starting in 2022. It's going to suck watching another dead season in 2020-2021, but who knows if/what that season even looks like, and those two alone would be such a bright beacon shining through to the following season that I think I could handle it... Especially because they are not alone! Sam Fagemo and Rasmus Kupari, both still farther out, but presenting themselves as very promising prospects. Adrian Kemp comes in as a depth player about to get some more action in Buffalo, and Jonathan Quick comes in at a retained salary to mentor Ullmark and 6K for the next few years. Quick could eventually be bought out or buried, but I think we survive with him and Ullmark for at least the next two seasons.
Oh, and we get all those other 2nd and 3rd round picks, filling in gaps in the pipeline for drafts to come.
We lose someone who I feel is a top 5 center in the NHL, the heart and soul of the franchise, and has done everything you could have asked of him and more since he came to Buffalo. He's been surrounded with incompetence that entire time. So we are setting him free and he's off to live the Hollywood life. Eichel, I'll probably shed tears if you go... but if you do go it better be for a haul like this. LA needs to fill some wholes on the defense, so McCabe heads over and is resigned by the Kings. Buffalo also sheds the Okposo contract, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind heading to LA with Eichel to finish out his deal (and clear Buffalo some cap).
The Sabres would be forced to aggressively shop for a #1C... With all these picks and prospects, maybe the Dvorak trade upthread becomes easier to put together. MoJo would have to pull 2C duties for another year, likely becoming trade deadline bait for the 3rd(4th?) time in his career. It'll be another rough season in Buffalo, but I don't know if even we could screw up the following years.
This trade gets an F. Because we aren't trading Eichel. Not Once, Not Never. Nope. But it also gets an A, because sweet mother of god the prospect pool would be stacked.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
The Trade: Buffalo trades Jacob Bryson, Tage Thompson <> San Jose Sharks trade Kevin LeBanc.
This one is much smaller than some of the other trades. I wanted to stay away from Hertl, and that minimizes the potential options a bit. I think it's going to be tricky for teams to "help out" with the Sharks's cap problems by taking on a bad contract, so the only real way I see a deal getting done is for someone on the fringes. Someone like LeBanc, who made a poor bet on himself last year and now needs a new deal.
In return, San Jose gets two NHL unknowns in Bryson and Tage. Bryson likely needs more time in the AHL, but the Sharks certainly have holes to fill on the left side of the back end, and Bryson may have the speed needed to play with Burns or Karlsson and not being a total anchor. When you are paying 24% for two defensemen who prefer to play the same side... I think not sucking for a cheap cap hit is all you can hope for, so the Sharks will be filtering through plenty of ELC players on the LHD spot for years to come. Tage also goes back to fill in the forward gap that LeBanc is leaving, and doing so at a modest cap hit.
I think the bad year the Sharks had make this a somewhat possible trade, as it brought LeBanc's value down a little bit. I'll give this one a B- grade!
The Trade: Buffalo Trades Rasmus Ristolainen, Carter Hutton (.75m retained) <> Vancouver Canucks trade Thatcher Demko, Jay Beagle, Sven Baertschi, Kole Lind, 2021 3rd
Another smaller trade. This one ends Ristolainen's time with Buffalo, but he rejoins Tyler Myers! Remember when they played together in Buffalo!! Wow we have lost so much hope since then. Risto moves on to a new org, one that I can't quite ever get a pulse on. They just seem to make odd moves, and this is no real exception... But I'm hoping Risto finds success should he move elsewhere. Hutton goes with him, as we are looking to bring back the Canucks current much younger backup (and I think they resign Markstrom to a solid deal this offseason).
Buffalo again plays cap cleanup specialist. We pick up an overpaid depth Center in Jay Beagle, a 1 year cap sink in Baertschi, and an intersting prospect in Lind. However, Demko is the key target coming back. Ullmark and Demko will make a good, young goalie tandem. The unfortunate thing is that we will likely have to pay Seattle not to take whichever goalie is left unprotected. This is why I have the 3rd coming back from Vancouver as well, as this will likely pay the Kraken toll to ensure we keep both young netminders. The timer starts for both, as 6k is going to get the bulk of the starts for the next two years in Rochester. I have to figure that 2 years from now, he will be knocking on the NHL door if all goes well. At that point Buffalo looks to make a move, but having three younger goalie prospects in the system will hopefully lead to a more stable product on the ice.
I'm not going to lie... I read on the twittersphere that The Leafs were looking at Demko. If we get him and the leafs DON'T get him, thats an extra win. So I am giving this an A-on spite alone!
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Trade: Buffalo Trades 2020 first (#8 overall), rights to Lawrence Pilut, 2021 6th <> Vegas trades Alec Martinez, Alex Tuch, 2020 1st (31st overall), 2020 NJD 3rd, 2022 BUF 5th
I'm not gonna lie, I think Ottawa makes this trade with Vegas and they do it much easier with their ridiculous amount of draft capital. AND I'm again trading out of the high first round without solving the Center problem... But watching the bubble hockey session so far, I get this feeling that Vegas and Lehner make a great pairing. I think he'll command a contract somewhere around 5M AAV, which means if Vegas does want to make a match there they would need to spend 12M AAV for the next two years at the goalie position. With all their other contracts already, and the fact they may play a protector role in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft, they could use some cap space.
In return, Buffalo gets Alec Martinez. Cap Friendly notes his as a Right Defensemen, but he shoots leftie and I think could swap back to that side without issue. So he would be coming in to play the LD role in Buffalo as a rental with playoff and cup experience. Alex Tuch had some injury problems this year, but when he goes he plays a fast and hard forechecking style of play that would help bring some energy to the Buffalo roster. I'd like to re-unite the overpowered line of Skinner - Eicherl - Reino, so Tuch would fill in on either the 2nd or 3rd line for Buffalo, with prospects (and that ever elusive new-2C) filling out the middle six. He could pair well with Olof, with Tuch playing an almost Eichel-lite role of the fast zone entries and pulling players into him to free up space for Olof. He is also a Syracuse kid according to CapFriendly (I did not know this!) so he may actually want to come play here for the next 6 seasons of his contract! We are also doing Vegas a favor by clearing cap, and paying a hefty price with the #8 overall pick... so in return we pick up their likely very late first rounder, a 3rd rounder, and our own 2022 5th rounder back. We send the 2021 6th rounder along to keep up my theme of Buffalo trading out of that draft as much as possible to save on scouting budget.
I've talked myself into this one, I'm giving this a grade of A for fAir!
Let me know your favorite and least favorite trade in the comments below!!