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A Trade Idea So Crazy it Might Work

This is a FanPost written by BuffaloBuckeye.

The Problems

The teams in the only two cities I’ve ever lived both have clear and obvious needs. The Sabres took substantial strides last season, ending up painfully close to the playoffs. They showed two notable weaknesses, goaltending and defensive depth. Devon Levi may well have fixed the first part, but defensive depth past Dahlin, Power, and Samuelsson is a huge concern, especially given their atrocious record when only one of those three didn’t play. Herni Jokiharju is not a 2nd-pairing player, nor are Casey Stillman and Ilya Lyubushkin. Jacob Bryson isn’t even an NHL player. Too many teams beat up on these players who were over their heads. What the Sabres need is a solid defensive presence next to Owen Power who’s also capable of moving the puck, much like Samuelsson is for Dahlin. This would also improve the third pairing, as the players I mentioned above would be in more appropriate roles for their skill levels. While defensive depth is a problem for the Sabres, forward depth, especially young forwards, is not one. With Jack Quinn, J.J. Peterka, Dylan Cozens, and Peyton Krebs in the NHL and Matthew Savoie, Jiri Kulich, Isak Rosen, Noah Ostlund, and Viktor Neuchev, among others, behind them, there is a logjam on the horizon. As for the Jackets, they need a lot of things, but only having one true center on the current roster is a huge one, especially when that one is Sean Kuraly. Jenner, Roslovic, and maybe Kent Johnson could deputize, but that didn’t go too well last year. Funnily enough, Laine was their best center for the dozen or so games he played there before getting injured. Even taking Leo Carlsson or Will Smith (I’d prefer Carlsson) at 3 in this draft, the only other decent center prospect they have is Luca del bel Belluz (incredible name btw). They could definitely use another center for both this season and the future. The Jackets are pretty deep on defense, with young players like Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke, and Nick Blankenburg currently in the NHL, with David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Stanislav Svozil, Corson Ceulemans, Jake Christiansen, Marcus Bjork, and Tim Berni behind them. With three long-term players set, and seven more potential NHL’ers in the pipeline, the Jackets have a defensive glut comparable to the Sabres’ forward glut. If only there was some way both teams could fix each other’s issues . . .

The Trade

To BUF: RHD David Jiricek To CBJ: C Matthew Savoie

While both players are considered to be “untouchable” by their respective teams, I think the return here would warrant an exception to that, as it’s for a player of the same age and caliber. Given how well Jiricek played last season, the Sabres may need to throw in a little extra, but I think the baseline deal is a one-for-one swap. Jiricek was, along with Jiri Kulich, possibly the best rookie in the AHL last season, putting up 38 points in 55 games. He wasn’t quite so convincing in his 4 games for the Jackets, but that’s hardly a surprise given the dumpster fire that team was. I view Jiricek as a more skilled version of Mikael Samuelsso. At 6’3″, he has the size to be a dominant defensive player, and also has a good understanding of how to use his size. While I don’t think he’s quite as clever with that as Samuelsson is (it’s incredible to watch how he just suffocates opponents with just his body & stick positioning), Jiricek is more willing to just outright flatten people. While Samuelsson is certainly competent on the puck and can move it, Jiricek’s hands and vision are a step above. He also has an excellent shot; in my view it’s better than Owen Power’s, and really any Sabres defenseman not named Rasmus Dahlin. My only real on-ice concern with Jiricek is his skating, but I don’t think it’s particularly worse than Samuelsson’s, and his brain normally buys him an extra step or two anyway. In an ideal world, the top 4 of Dahlin, Power, Jiricek, and Samuelsson are together until at least 2030, giving the Sabres two D-pairs that would be a clear-cut top pairing anywhere else in the league from roughly 2025 to 2030. The Sabres are also in a bit of an awkward situation with Savoie, where he likely won’t be good enough to crack a very deep forward corps, but also wouldn’t gain anything out of another season of junior. While the Shane Wright option (including the DBTB favorite conditioning stint!) is an option, Jiricek’s potential development options are considerably more straightforward, with him being able to go straight to the AHL in the unlikely event he’s not ready. It’s certainly a lesser factor than team need, but still worth mentioning given how difficult development can be. Given the state of the Jackets’ center corps, it’s likely that Savoie would just make the NHL squad straight away, so they wouldn’t have to worry about the . . . convoluted rules surrounding young players either. My biggest concern about this trade would be about cap hit, but Tage and Cozens making several million below their market value opens up some flexibility. Plus, Jiricek’s ELC only kicks in this year, so by the time he’s due to be paid before the 2026-27 season, the cap should go up even more. So, what do you think of my idea?

Let me know in the comments. I have a feeling this idea will be controversial, but what else is this site for?