The Sabres are still in search of a top four defenseman to round out their team. Now that the free agent market has dried up, Buffalo will look into the secondary trade market. General Manager Tim Murray indicated his desire was to test the trade market to fill his need on the blue line.
The Sabres did sign veteran defender Carlo Colaiacovo. The 32-year-old is a better fit as a 6th or 7th defenseman in the NHL. He’ll compete in training camp for a roster spot, but doesn’t fill the need Murray is still in search of. As a 13-year veteran, he’ll provide some good experience to a very young blue line.
Waiting Out the Market
At this time in the offseason it’s unlikely the Sabres will get a deal done in the near future. After Development Camp most GM’s take some time away before getting back it around the start of training camp. Buffalo could look to capitalize on an opportunity to make a late offseason trade like the New York Islanders did last season. The Islanders picked up two solid defensemen in Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. The Bruins and Blackhawks were looking to clear cap space prior to the start of the season and the Isles were the beneficiary.
Again this season, a few teams could be looking to clear cap space before training camp and the beginning of the season. The Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild are a few teams the Sabres could look to target.
The Canucks could move a player like Dan Hamhuis, who is going into the final year of his contract. At 32 years old, the Canucks may want to move on from the former first round pick. Hamhuis has only been a minus player four times in his 11 NHL
seasons. He can still contribute in a top-four role even though he’s at the back end of his career. Vancouver may get better value on Hamhuis at the trade deadline, but the Sabres would be wise to gauge the Canucks interest.
Another player that could be on the block is Braydon Coburn of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have roughly 1.1 million dollars in cap space according to capfriendly.com. Coburn was acquired by the Lightning at the trade deadline last season, but with only one year remaining on his contract, Tampa Bay could be looking to unload his salary. At 30 years old, Coburn still has a few good seasons left in the league. His size at 6’5″ is very intriguing for any team interested in the blue liner.
The last player the Sabres could try to wait out is Blackhawks top defenseman Brent Seabrook. The 30 year old is entering the final year of his deal and chatter is starting to pick up if the Hawks are interested in a long-term contract extension. To save more cap space the Blackhawks could explore the market for Seabrook if they indeed are having doubts about offering an extension. Chicago isn’t stocked on the blue line right now, but if they clear the space to re-sign Johnny Oduya and move Seabrook for a younger and cheaper defender, the move could make a lot of sense. However, with the recent trade of Sharp and the Blackhawks picking up Trevor Daly in the deal, they could be set.
Buffalo has the cap space and desire to make another move before the season starts. If Oduya looks to explore other options outside of Chicago, the Sabres would be interested in the veteran blue liner. It’ll be interesting to see how aggressive Murray wants to get in improving his club this season.