Top Five Buffalo Sabres’ UFA Trade Bait

Thirty-six games into the 2014-2015 NHL season, the Buffalo Sabres have earned a record of 14-19-3. After a woeful start where Buffalo found itself in last place for a good portion of the time, the Sabres have recently climbed out of the basement going 5-4-1 in their last ten games. Despite a few winning stretches, the Sabres still find themselves in twenty-sixth place overall in the NHL.

The Sabres are in an interesting position as the club approaches the half-way mark of the 2014-2015 season. The Sabres find themselves just ten points out of the NHL’s basement, a position currently owned by the Edmonton Oilers. At the same time, Buffalo is just eleven points out of the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference which is currently occupied by the Washington Capitals.

Hope abounds for those who want the Sabres to finish in last place for a chance at a top draft choice and for those who want to see the Sabres fight their way into the playoffs. With forty-six games left to play this season, the possibilities of either making the playoffs or finishing in last place are still very realistic. However, if the club fails to meet one of these outcomes then they may find themselves in a difficult spot with their fans.

As the season charges forward, GM Tim Murray will have some decisions to make regarding this season’s class of unrestricted free agents. The ‘ifs and whens’ that Murray will need to consider with regards to trades could have a major impact on Buffalo’s final position in the NHL standings. Murray will need to weigh the pros and cons between maximizing his return on trades and his organizational goals for the on-going rebuild.

According to, the Sabres will have nine players hit unrestricted free agency at the end of this season. Buffalo will also have four restricted free agents who will be seeking new contracts. This sets the scene for a very interesting trade deadline and offseason in Sabreland. Here is a look at the top five unrestricted free agents on the Sabres’ roster under consideration for dealing ahead of the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline.

[See Also: Buffalo Sabres: Previewing the Last Week of 2014]


Jhonas Enroth

Playing in his sixth NHL campaign, all with Buffalo, Jhonas Enroth is quietly having a good season. Enroth has compiled an 11-11-2 record and his .912 save percentage is in line with his career .913 save percentage numbers. After spending a few years as Ryan Miller’s backup, Enroth has been impressive at times and has made a strong case to be part of Tim Murray’s future plans for the Sabres.

Perhaps Enroth’s biggest value for the Sabres has been his performances during the shootout. Of Buffalo’s fourteen wins, six games were won in the shootout and Enroth was the goaltender for five of these wins. According to, Enroth has a .952 save percentage in shootouts where he’s allowed just one goal this season.

Enroth’s play this season has not only won over many fans but it has made a strong case for a new contract. However, if a new contract cannot be negotiated it is in the best interest of the organization to broker a trade rather than risk losing Enroth for nothing in unrestricted free agency.


Drew Stafford

Forward Drew Stafford has had a mixed level of success during his tenure in Buffalo. Stafford is playing in his ninth NHL season after being drafted thirteenth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In five hundred forty-six career games, Stafford has one hundred forty-one goals and three hundred and seventeen points.

Stafford showed strong potential early in his career. He started playing games for Buffalo during their President’s Trophy winning 2006-2007 season. Stafford has scored twenty or more goals three times in his career but he hasn’t reached twenty goals since the 2011-2012 season.

In recent years Stafford’s production has fallen off as the Buffalo Sabres have struggled. During the last three seasons where he’s appeared in one hundred forty-six games, Stafford has scored just twenty-seven times. He also is a -48 over the last three seasons and currently is a -13 with Buffalo this season.

Stafford does seem more engaged ever since Ted Nolan took over as the Sabres’ head coach. However, the twenty-nine year old needs a change of scenery to see how much he has left in the tank for the remainder of his NHL career. Stafford has just five goals and nineteen points in thirty-three games so far this season.


Chris Stewart

Stewart came to Buffalo at last season’s deadline along with goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward William Carrier, a first round pick in 2015 and a conditional third in 2016 in exchange for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott. The forward is a former 2006 first round draft selection of the Colorado Avalanche. He arrived in St. Louis in February of 2011 along with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a conditional second round pick in a trade for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a conditional first round pick.

In four hundred seventeen career games in the NHL, Stewart has one hundred twenty goals and two hundred thirty-seven points. Stewart has struggled to find consistency at the NHL level but when he is on his game he is very difficult to play against. The forward has a six-foot two inch and two hundred thirty-one pound frame that gives him a powerful physical advantage against his opponents.

His lack of consistency has been an issue that has continued to be a factor during his time in Buffalo. Stewart has played in forty games as a member of the Sabres and has just five goals and nine points. Stewart recently was a healthy scratch on a team that is currently ranked in the lower third of the NHL standings. The healthy scratch seems to have helped Stewart though who has contributed since returning to the lineup.

Stewart will likely be traded sometime before the 2015 NHL trade deadline. His name is mentioned a lot in the rumor mill for good reason. The big forward can provide a strong physical element to a playoff-bound team. For his career, Stewart has five goals and six points in nineteen career NHL playoff games.


Michal Neuvirth

Both Sabres’ goaltenders will be unrestricted free agents by the end of this season. When the 2014 deadline saw Buffalo trade away goaltender Ryan Miller, many wondered how the team would replace one of the organization’s top goaltenders.  After some wheeling and dealing by GM Tim Murray, the club acquired Michal Neuvirth from the Washington Capitals to help answer this question.

Neuvirth had some decent years in Washington but by the time he was acquired by the Sabres he had fallen out of favor. Despite Buffalo’s difficulties this season, Neuvirth has played well enough to give his club a chance to win when he’s between the pipes. The twenty-six year old has a 3-8-1 record and a .909 save percentage this season.

He has battled through injury but has managed to string together some impressive efforts so far this season. However, in his last three starts Neuvirth has allowed fourteen goals while facing one hundred and twelve shots during that span. With other goaltenders in Buffalo’s system, GM Tim Murray probably won’t keep both Neuvirth and Enroth so he will need to continue to evaluate his goalie situation and decide who to keep in blue and gold.


Torrey Mitchell

Torrey Mitchell was acquired by Buffalo along with two second round draft picks in a trade with the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick at last year’s trade deadline. Interestingly, both Moulson & McCormick found their way back to the Sabres after both hit the unrestricted free agency market this past summer. Mitchell is playing in his seventh NHL season where he has thirty-nine goals and ninety-seven points in four hundred twenty-three career games.

While his numbers are a far cry from jump-off-the-page statistics, Mitchell has provided some intangibles for the Sabres that have proven valuable. In thirty-one games so far this season, Mitchell has three goals and six points. Mitchell has contributed in short-handed situations where he averages more than two minutes per game of ice time on the penalty kill unit.

The veteran forward’s sixteen takeaways is second on the Sabres. He has been physical at times logging twenty-eight hits and he has blocked twenty-three shots on the season. Mitchell has won 45.2% of his faceoffs and has been trusted to take 15.9% of the Sabres’ draws through his thirty-one games played. The forward could bring Buffalo a late round selection at the trade deadline while providing some valuable depth for teams in contention to make a playoff run.

[See Also: Why Buffalo Deserves Another Winter Classic]

9 thoughts on “Top Five Buffalo Sabres’ UFA Trade Bait”

  1. [1st] – If lack of personality buys you anything….hummm? As I see it the Sabre’s are in a interesting, no dangerious, no potentially team building moment, that, will decide as to they become a potiental given as a team in the playoffs, nothing more, or a team that’s something special that will be a part of the City of
    Buffalo’s resergence. Oh, excuse me, I meant to say all Western New York was talking about, from then for the nextge next best thing since fresh cut Beef on Weck, Webers Horseradish Mustard, a charcoal fired Salen;s or a pla 50 yearstefull or Santasero;s or Chief;s.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts, comments and shares. I really appreciate it. As far as Stafford goes, he has shown some flashes but on the whole he hasn’t lived up to his potential as far as scoring goes. He has talent but often has gone for long stretches with low scoring production which has driven some fans crazy over the years.

    Buffalo got a 1st round pick a few years ago for Gaustad which I think was a big overpayment. As a few trades start happening we’ll get a better idea of Stafford’s relative value. Based on his current performance, the Sabres may only be able to get a mid to lower end pick for him but that isn’t clear just yet. He’s on an expiring contract and will need to battle for a new one so he may provide some value to a playoff team. He definitely needs a change of scenery and as a pending UFA I think his days in Buffalo are numbered.

  3. The Sabres are loaded at goal for the future. Hackett in Buffalo, Makarov in Rochester, Ulmark in Europe will be up before season end and even Cal Peterson in ND who could potentially be the best of the bunch. Neither net minder will be here next year.

  4. People who keep saying things like “head for the bottom” and “not finishing last isn’t an option” are not being realistic. Buffalo simply isn’t a bad enough team this season and no amount of dumping veterans is going to change that. In most cases the players we have in Rochester would be an upgrade over those we would be trading which is why they are not in Buffalo. Buffalo’s new core of Risto/Myers/Zadorov/Gorges on defense and Girgensons up front is actually very good. Getting rid of unhappy dead weight like Stewart and Inconsistent and mediocre 3rd liners taking top 2 line minutes like Stafford and replacing them with hungry and skilled kids like Armia and Grigorenko would likely improve the team rather than make it worse. The bottom line is that being 10 points out of last is an even bigger distance than the 11 behind the wildcard. Thats because Edmonton has only won 7 games ALL YEAR and have lost 9 straight. Not only would we have to get much MUCH worse than we are now, Edmonton and Carolina would BOTH need to get far better and neither one of those scenarios is terribly likely. Having both happen at the same time is nearly impossible. Not going to happen.
    As for our future depending it, thats false. Between Risto, Zadorov, Pysyk, McCabe and Ruwhedal buffalo has prospect depth on D that most teams cant even dream of. As he is showing at the WJC, Reinhart will be a very good player up front. Girgensons is already the best forward on the team and will be an elite #2 center. Buffalo will score 3 first rounders this year in one of the deepest drafts in years. They already have Grigorenko, Armia, Fasching, and Lemieux in the pipeline offensively. They have good goalie depth as well. All in all buffalo has the deepest talent pool in hockey. They have a borderline great head coach (getting this collection of stiffs, kids, and career AHLrs able to compete every night and be only 5 games under .500 at this point with the GM dong everything possible to void the roster of talent for the #1 pick is nearly coach of the year material).

  5. Keep Enroth, dump the rest. No more picks, just young guys ready by next year to play in the league. We already have a bunch of kids in the pipeline who are still a few years from being NHL ready. We need kids closer than that or even young veterans.
    Stewart has his moments, but is not a clutch goal scorer. Stafford like a firefly. He lights up every so often, but then disappears. Mitchell really has not impressed me and Neuvirth has not been the same since his injury.That Mezaros guy or whatever his name is has shown me nothing at al to justify staying here. In fact, most of the offseason guys, excepting Jorges(Sp.?) or Gionta, have not impressed much.

  6. Get rid of Enroth ASAP and head for the basement, that is the only way the Sabres will achieve long term success. Finishing any less than last in not an option and I think Tim Murray would agree. Lets face it finishing 26th or better and still out of the playoffs or even in the playoffs but an early first round exit gets you a poor pick and the same results year after year.

Comments are closed.