Predicting the Buffalo Sabres Trade Deadline

The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline is just over a week away, and, once again, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves at the bottom of the league.

Because of that, general manager Tim Murray will no doubt be a seller at the deadline. But unlike past years in this position, Murray has a few tough decisions to make regarding players on this roster. The team is no longer looking to get to the bottom to achieve the first or second-overall draft pick, which makes the decisions to trade away certain players a bit tougher of a choice.

The team has players like David Legwand and Jamie McGinn set to hit the free agent market at the end of the season. But there are also other players that have been linked to trade talk this year like forward Tyler Ennis and defenseman Josh Gorges. With days to go before these decisions must be made, there is no sure thing with Buffalo this year. That being said, this is sure to be an exciting trade deadline for fans in Buffalo.

But what will happen? Let’s try to guess, shall we?

Staying Put:

Before looking at the trades that will happen, it’s best to get those that aren’t going anywhere out of the way.

Let’s start with the highly talked about McGinn. If he’s dealt, it would be more likely to come at the draft in the form of negotiating rights rather than at the deadline. He likes it Buffalo, is good friends with Ryan O’Reilly and has produced nicely for this team. Both player and team have talked about the idea of him signing an extension, and keeping him beyond the deadline gives Murray and McGinn a chance to hammer out a deal to remain a member of the Sabres.

Another player that is staying with Buffalo is Gorges. He’s a cap hit of $3.9 million per season for the next two years, and I just don’t see the Sabres getting enough in return to justify a trade. The same can be said for fellow defenseman Zach Bogosian and even forward Matt Moulson. Moulson, however, could be sent should Buffalo be willing to eat some salary, but I don’t see Murray doing something along those lines.

Shipping Out:

Now that we know who’s staying of the players that have been talked about in terms of trades, it’s time to look at those who will be saying goodbye to Buffalo by February 29. Instead of just talking about who’s going out of town, I’m going to throw on my own GM cap and actually make the deals. I know I’m probably way off with my thoughts here, but it will be fun nonetheless.

Trade 1:

To Buffalo: D Cam Fowler, F Stefan Noesen

To Anaheim Ducks: F Tyler Ennis, 2016 3rd round pick (DAL or STL)

REASON: Murray has been linked to liking Fowler in the past, and this could be a nice way to grab the potential top four defenseman. Ennis is a perennial 20-goal scorer when healthy, and comes at a relatively affordable cap hit of $4.6 million. Grabbing a young prospect like Noesen for a pick in the deal is another nice addition for the Sabres system.

Fowler alongside someone like Mark Pysyk could be a pretty exciting defensive pairing for years in Buffalo.

 

Trade 2:

To Buffalo: D Raman Hrbarenka, 2016 4th round pick

To New Jersey: F Johan Larsson

REASON: I don’t see Larsson being back in Buffalo next season, so getting a depth defenseman for Rochester while adding a draft pick is a nice way to end the relationship with Larsson. Larsson has just eight goals and 26 points for the Sabres during his time with the team, and could actually help the Devils with their playoff push if he can get into a rhythm.

 

Trade 3:

To Buffalo: 2016 5th round pick

To Arizona: G Chad Johnson

REASON: With the recent news about Anders Lindback going down with an Achilles injury, trading Johnson – a pending UFA – allows the Coyotes to have a serviceable goalie while they fight for the playoffs. For the Sabres, it allows Linus Ullmark to come back up while opening the door for a goaltender in Rochester. It’s an all-around winning deal for Buffalo.

 

Trade 4:

To Buffalo: F Kerby Rychel

To Columbus: D Jake McCabe, F Nicholas Baptiste, 2017 Conditional 5th round pick

REASON: This is more of a “not going to happen” trade than anything. But with Rychel wanting out of Columbus and the Sabres needing some more depth on the wing, it could be a perfect match for both player and team.

The Blue Jackets need a left-handed blueliner, and McCabe fits that mold. He has the potential to become a stud on the back end, and would be an instant improvement to the Columbus defensive unit. Sending Baptiste to Columbus gives the Lake Erie Monsters some more depth, and the draft pick could be a conditional one based on performance in 2016-17 from Rychel with the potential to jump to as high as a third-round pick.

 

What the Fans Think: