What's next for the Sabres on the trade front?
Tim Murray moved most of his high profile tradeable assets in yesterday's moves. Who is left for the Sabres to deal at the deadline?
After yesterday's whirlwind of moves, Tim Murray may have taken out a bit of the fun for Sabres fans on deadline day. That may be true, but there are a few pieces that the Sabres GM will very likely move before the deadline.
The most frequent Sabres rumors will now be centered around Chris Stewart. The Sabres power forward has seen his production increase recently, scoring four goals and six assists in his last 10 games. The team most frequently brought up when it comes to Stewart has been Boston, but he has also been tied to Ottawa since the day the Sabres acquired him.
Past Stewart, the pickings are slim. Torrey Mitchell is arguably the next valuable pending UFA. Mitchell has produced about what one would expect while looking at his career numbers. His three goals and five assists add up to only two points less than he had all last season. He's been used in a second-line role frequently this season, and has actually been rather versatile. It's tough to say exactly what his value was in the trade from Minnesota, but his role seemed to serve as a cap break for Minnesota. He isn't likely to fetch much of a return.
Small return is the name of the game for the rest of the Sabres UFAs. If the Sabres are confident in finding a goalie during the off-season they could move Michal Neuvirth, but he would likely be worth less than the recently traded Jhonas Enroth. Defensemen Andrej Meszaros, Andre Benoit and Tyson Stachan are all free agents, but teams won't be lining up to add any of them.
Cody Hodgson may also be in the discussion, but his $4.2 million cap hit for the next four years will be tough to move. His production has been incredibly mediocre this season, only two goals and six assists in 51 games. That's the same amount as Mitchell, and, as Matthew Coller likes to point out, seven points less than Ville Leino last season. His defensive struggles continue to be documented, and he is in Ted Nolan's dog house as well. When Murray talked about Hodgson earlier this week he voiced that he expects Hodgson would produce far more on a better team, so he may want to hold onto him. If no one is interested in a trade, Hodgson could be bought out this off-season as well.
Despite the cupboard feeling a bit empty, the lack of obvious trade bait is a good sign for the future. The rebuild of the roster is beginning to come to a close, the constant shipping out of any player with some talent and value will cease. Now, the team's best players will be the untouchable ones, the young core.
However with Murray, you never know exactly what to expect. No one saw the trade that landed the Sabres Hudson Fasching and Nick Deslauriers from the Kings. There are still plenty of young prospects and draft picks that Murray could package for something else on deadline day. Odds are, we've already seen his best work.