Some hockey fans consider the National Hockey League’s Trade Deadline to be a hockey national holiday, where their respective teams can attempt to make moves that push them over the edge in the race for the Stanley Cup. For Sabres fans though, they have come to see the deadline as just another day in another long-and-winding-season.
Monday’s deadline would be no different.
Prior to the trade deadline, Buffalo Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams made one trade - sending defenseman Robert Hagg to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 sixth-round pick.
We have acquired defenseman Robert Hagg from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick.— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 20, 2022
» https://t.co/9oKHCLrVVl pic.twitter.com/umH4Hvlfua
That would be the only move the Sabres would ultimately make.
Following the disappointing deadline day, Adams spoke to the media, attempting to paint the picture of his troubles throughout the afternoon.
Kevyn Adams says he was proactive in speaking with teams but at the end of the day, it was about what was best for the development of the group. He was open to doing more but stuck with their plan.— Heather Engel (@engelheather) March 21, 2022
"I really believe the next 19 games for our group are so are important."
With Adams focusing on “the development of the group”, one can begin to scratch their head.
At this moment, the Buffalo Sabres have a full lineup with minimal room to budge.
Down in Rochester, it is clear that Jack Quinn is ready for an extended NHL look. Now would be the perfect time to execute that extended look, prior to the Calder Cup Playoffs in the AHL.
Quinn has recorded 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in his last 10 games, as a 19-year-old.
Despite wanting to have Quinn experience the playoffs as a professional in the AHL, it certainly seems logical to get the young prospect some time with the big club before likely having an expanded role with Buffalo next season.
What about potential prospects leaving college?
Even if any Sabres prospects win the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, there will be a handful of games remaining in Buffalo. The idea of stepping out of the NCAA and directly into a NHL lineup could certainly entice any prospect to leave school early.
Buffalo has top overall pick Owen Power and Erik Portillo at the University of Michigan. Ryan Johnson is at the University of Minnesota. Devon Levi is at Northeastern.
All of those teams are currently in the hunt for the Frozen Four.
If one teams were to exit early, the watch will be on with Buffalo having four contract spots open, according to CapFriendly.
The question remains though - where will these players go?
Certainly, Owen Power would come directly to Buffalo, no doubt about that. Playing time will be hard to come by, unless Don Granato is going to make those tough decisions to healthy scratch veterans.
Another confusing angle to look at when trying to decipher the lack of moves on Monday is the free agent status of multiple players on the Sabres roster.
Veteran forward Cody Eakin has played in 690 career games and 50 career postseason games but still remains on the Sabres roster, despite being a pending unrestricted free agent.
Veteran forward Vinnie Hinostrosa has tallied 21 points in 43 games with the Sabres this season but still remains on the Sabres roster, despite being a pending unrestricted free agent.
On the defensive side of things, pressure can be turned down a little simply because of injuries.
Defenseman Will Butcher and defenseman Colin Miller, both pending unrestricted free agents, have played a combined three games since January 29. Those three games came in the Sabres last two games.
Kevyn Adams did confirm following the deadline that injuries cratered Miller’s market.
In goal, Craig Anderson is a pending unrestricted free agent. Adams spoke about Anderson’s deadline status this afternoon.
Kevyn Adams confirms that the injury impacted Colin Miller's value on the trade market.— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) March 21, 2022
Adams communicated to Craig Anderson this morning that he wanted to do right by Anderson, who reiterated that he would be open to a move if it was the right fit.
The right fit for Anderson clearly did not appear, evident by no trade made before today’s deadline. Despite turning 41 in May, it would not be a complete surprise to see Anderson return to the Sabres for the 2022-23 season.
A puzzling day, with a lack of moves, for the Buffalo Sabres certainly caused an uproar among the restless fanbase. Time will tell if there was a method to the madness but fans are clearly unhappy about the front office’s inability to turn unrestricted free agents into some sort of future asset.