Early Thoughts on the Guhle-Montour Trade

The good & the bad of the Sabres’ recent deal

On Sunday night, Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made a deal with the Anaheim Ducks, shipping out defensive prospect Brendan Guhle and a first-round draft pick for defenseman Brandon Montour.

Giving up Guhle is an interesting move for Botterill and co. In one sense, Guhle is a theoretical asset for the Sabres, with limited NHL experience and a ‘what if’ sense as to what he could develop into. He was growing quite well as part of the Rochester Americans organization, where he was near the top in defensive scoring with 27 points on the season.

The Sabres also gave up a first-round pick, but not their own. Anaheim its set to receive the Sharks’ first-rounder that the Sabres held the rights to - with the condition that the Ducks can opt to take the Blues’ first-rounder instead if it is within picks #20 - #31.

Upon first glance, it seems like the Sabres gave up a little much for Montour and that perhaps they could’ve gotten away with the deal with just one of the two pieces. But Montour is certainly an NHL-caliber right-handed defenseman, adding to Buffalo’s blueline corps. (And fun fact: he used to play lacrosse & could’ve pursued a career in it.)

Here’s a tidbit of analysis on Montour from Pittsburgh Hockey Now, based on reports earlier today that the Penguins could have been targeting the defenseman:

“Montour, 24, is a fast-skating playmaker with a booming shot. In 62 games this season, the third-year defenseman has 25 points (5g, 20a) which fit with his 32 points (9g, 23a) last season. Not only would Montour be a perfect fit for the Penguins quiet youth movement–most moves this season has involved a player 26-years-old or younger–he is signed through next season at a reasonable $3.387 million. Montour may remind some of a younger Kris Letang as he is a high-risk, high reward defenseman. This season, he’s a minus-16.”

At the same time - perhaps this deal is an indication that more is coming. The Sabres are already loaded down with NHL defensemen, but the deadline isn’t until 3 p.m. Monday and there’s certainly time for some other pieces to move. It’s possible that someone like Nathan Beaulieu or even Rasmus Ristolainen could be shipped out in the coming hours.

When Montour re-signed with the Ducks prior to this season, here’s what he had to say:

“For the most part, as a player, I didn’t really know what exactly I am right now. I know my strenghts and believe in myself helping this team and being a key contibutor to my team as of now and moving forward. We all agreed with a shorter term. Getting better as we keep goining on. I’ve only played close to 150 games. The shorter term was the best fit for the both of us. -Brandon Montour, Anaheim Ducks defenseman, to AnaheimDucks.com.

The folks over at Pucks of a Feather called Montour an “honorable mention” for a potential trade deadline deal, noting that he is a “young player who has already shown exceptional ability and has the potential to be special.”

Here’s what Sabres GM Botterill had to say about the newest acquisition:

Initially, the trade doesn’t seem overly impressive for the Sabres, and it’s certainly a gamble - but keep in mind that this could just be one of a piece of moves in the works from Botterill and staff prior to the upcoming deadline. Also, keep in mind that Guhle himself would’ve been a gamble, as we haven’t gotten to see him too much in action at the NHL level.

The Sabres are back in action on Monday night in Toronto to face a tough Leafs squad.