While many expected Sunday to be a busy day on the NHL trade front, things weren’t terribly active. The discussion of the day mostly had to do with the injury of Mats Zuccarello in his first game with the Dallas Stars and the news that neither Wayne Simmonds nor Corey Perry would have hearings with The Department of NHL Player Saftey for their hits on Saturday. In a matter of minutes, all that changed.
In the early evening on Sunday, defenseman Brandon Montour was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. The details of the trade is Montour going to Buffalo for a first-round pick and prospect Brendan Guhle going to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Buffalo Sabres have acquired defenceman Brandon Montour from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenceman Brendan Guhle and a conditional first round pick. MORE: https://t.co/vEX45fiis1@GolfTown #TradeCentre pic.twitter.com/I3vhtclKTP
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 25, 2019
After rumors were that a number of teams might be interested in Montour — the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and New York Rangers are among the teams that have shown some interest — Buffalo emerged as a somewhat surprising destination. He is not a rental with one more season left on his contract after this one at $3.387 million and this was not necessarily a trade meant to boost the Sabres chances at a run for this year’s Stanley Cup, although it is bound to help and Montour will make an immediate impact. So far this season, 25 points in 62 games for the Ducks.
Elliotte Friedman first reported the potential of a trade (Twitter link) and Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic followed suit with the expected return. (via Twitter). TSN’s Frank Seravalli then noted (Twitter link) that the first rounder is San Jose’s but they have the option to select the first-rounder of St. Louis instead if that selection falls between 20 and 31.
What Montour Brings the Sabres
With Marco Scandella listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury, the Sabres had to bolster their blue line. Montour helps the team do just that.
Montour is a young and talented right-handed defenseman. He’s the type of asset that is highly coveted in the NHL these days and the Ducks surely had a few offers on the table for his services. He’s been playing almost 23 minutes per night for the Ducks and while he’s having an average season, was one of the bright spots during a season for Anaheim that has been anything but positive.
Part of any struggles Montour might have been having likely had to do with the fact the Ducks were near the bottom of the barrel in the NHL standings.
What the Ducks Get in Return
The big return for the Ducks here is the first-round draft pick they collected for Montour. The report on Guhle is mixed. As a defensive prospect, he was overtaken on the depth chart by Lawrence Pilut and wasn’t exactly a sure thing for NHL duty. Others believed Guhle was a mobile two-way blueliner with size. Some called him Buffalo’s best defensive prospect after Rasmus Dahlin.
He’s touted as lefty with lots of talent but there’s no report yet on whether he’ll play with the Ducks or report to the AHL. The trade was a no-brainer when you consider Montour will come in and help right away, while the outlook of Guhle doing so was a maybe at best.
As for why the Ducks made the trade, that is yet to be determined. Perhaps this is the first step toward a shift in Anaheim and with Bob Murray now behind the bench, it could be a sign the GM/coach saw something he wasn’t too keen on. This trade certainly doesn’t boost their chances of winning games in the short term.
It will be interesting to see what this means for the Ducks and the next 24 hours as far as the NHL Trade Deadline is concerned. The team just recently re-signed forward Jakob Silfverberg, but there is plenty of buzz that they would like to move on from veterans like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler, even though all of these players have no-movement or no-trade clauses built into their contracts.