The Florida Panthers needed a defenseman after news broke that Aaron Ekblad was done for the remainder of the NHL’s regular season. It appears they’ve found one in Brandon Montour of the Buffalo Sabres. Multiple outlets are reporting a deal is done.
Pierre LeBrun tweeted, “Montour via text message says he’s pumped about being traded to Florida. ‘Fresh start. Super excited to finish off strong!'” Pictures have floated around on social media that he was informed during the Sabres on-ice skate Saturday and left while saying goodbye to his teammates.
Montour was a pending UFA on the last bit of a $3.85 million contract that was set to expire this year. He was a player that was likely going to be part of a fire sale out of Buffalo ahead of Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline. That turned out to be the case. He won’t come close to offering the Panthers what Ekblad did, but he’s a depth defender who can eat minutes on the blue line.
The Panthers are contenders this season and there was buzz they might make at least one or two moves before Monday. With a ton of cap space available, it made sense that new GM Bill Zito would do what he could to improve this team for the stretch run of games. The question will be if Montour is the right fit.
What Montour Brings to the Panthers
Montour is a defenseman who has been hot and cold since leaving the Anaheim Ducks and joining the Sabres. By most accounts, it’s been more cold than hot, even though he was strong No 4. defenceman in his first two seasons with the Ducks. His production has dropped off since joining the Sabres but he’s still playing second-pair minutes. He can shoulder over 20 minutes of ice time in a game if needed.
The Sabres likely thought a change of scenery would bring back the old player back that performed well with the Ducks. It didn’t really work but his offensive contributions are still respectable.
Montour has appeared in 38 games so far this season and has five goals to go along with nine assists. Over his five-year NHL career, Montour has played for both the Ducks and Sabres, he has 26 goals and 75 assists for 101 career points in 275 career games.
The Sabres did not retain any salary in the trade. This will allow GM Kevyn Adams to retain salary in two more trades before Monday and that’s not something to ignore. For Buffalo, that flexibility to make other salary-retention moves this deadline might have been key to the deal.
Panthers Likely Out of Running for Savard
There was chatter the Panthers might be a team interested in defenseman David Savard. This move likely removes them from that conversation. We’ll see what the return wound up being for Buffalo, but talk is that it’s a third-round pick. If so, one would have to assume with the ask not as high, this could have been a contributing factor in the Panthers looking Montour’s direction over Savard’s.
Montour was originally drafted in the second round, 55th overall of the 2014 NHL draft and it will be interesting to see if he can turn into the player many thought the Ducks were drafting as time winds down on the season in Florida and before he becomes a free agent.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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