The NHL trade deadline will occur at 3 P.M. on February 29, 2016. As this date draws closer, rumors of clubs swapping players and draft picks will intensify as teams jockey for positioning in the standings.
The Buffalo Sabres made a deal in March 1999 that became a very important trade for the team in a number of ways. Buffalo sent defenseman Mike Wilson to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenseman Rhett Warrener and a fifth round draft pick. This trade would not only provide value for Buffalo’s playoff run in 1999 but it also helped shape the team’s future.
The Players Involved in the Panthers & Sabres Trade
When Buffalo’s former GM Darcy Regier sent Mike Wilson to the Florida Panthers for Rhett Warrener and a fifth round draft pick, few could have predicted the long-term implications. A native of Brampton, Ont., Wilson was a former first round pick of the Vancouver Canucks selected 20th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
Wilson originally came to the Sabres organization in the deal that sent Alexander Mogilny to the Vancouver Canucks. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Wilson was with the Sabres for four seasons. He appeared in 231 games for Buffalo scoring 11 goals and 34 points.
Rhett Warrener is a native of Shaunavon, Sask. and he was selected 27th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to the trade, the defenseman spent parts of four seasons with the Florida Panthers. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Warrener played in 217 games for Florida netting 4 goals and 27 points.
Panthers & Sabres Trade Implications
After the trade, Wilson spent the next three seasons with the Panthers. An injury limited his playing time during the 2000-01 season. However, he appeared in 83 games during his three seasons in Florida scoring 4 goals and 21 points. In 2001-02, Wilson signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played in 21 games for the club. He then appeared in one game with the New York Rangers during the 2002-03 season. Wilson spent his later hockey years playing in Europe.
On the flip side, Rhett Warrener and the fifth round draft pick in 1999 were both very important for the Sabres. Warrener made a strong impression in Buffalo. He appeared in 20 playoff games in the Sabres’ 1999 run to the Stanley Cup Finals scoring one goal, four points, and logging 22:08 ATOI during this stretch.
Warrener spent parts of five seasons with the Buffalo. The defenseman scored nine goals and 42 points in 266 career games for the Sabres. Warrener’s time in Buffalo came to a close in July 2003 when he was traded along with forward Steven Reinprecht to the Calgary Flames for Chris Drury and Steve Begin.
The fifth round pick the Sabres acquired in the Mike Wilson deal also became an important piece for the club. Buffalo used the 138th overall selection in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft to bring goaltender Ryan Miller into the fold. Miller, of course, developed into a franchise goaltender and he had a big impact on Sabres’ history as well as the city of Buffalo during his 11 seasons with the blue and gold.
In March 2014, GM Tim Murray sent Miller along with forward Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues in a blockbuster deal. The trade brought goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first and a conditional third round pick in 2015 to the Sabres. Buffalo later negotiated additional trades involving some of the components of the Ryan Miller deal.
The Mike Wilson trade for Rhett Warrener and a fifth round pick was a very important deal for the Sabres. The trade not only had an immediate impact but it also sent ripple effects that have carried through to the present day.
[See Also: 2010-11 Buffalo Sabres: Where Are They Now?]
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW