The Buffalo Sabres are almost certainly destined to become sellers at the trade deadline, so Adam addresses a few early trade rumors!
Yesterday TSN came out with a list of the top 25 NHL players that could be dealt before the trade deadline (http://www.tsn.ca/tsn-hockey-s-trade-bait-list-1.203546). I think the article was more of a teaser or to generate some conversation. The interesting thing from the list is that it features three Buffalo Sabres: Evander Kane, Dmitry Kulikov, and Brian Gionta.
Right now, Evander Kane is hot. He’s been playing great hockey of late and had the game winning goal a few nights ago against San Jose. Currently, he has 16 goals and 10 assists on the season. When he feels like playing, his presence on the ice is known. His contract expires at the end of the 2017-18 season. Yes, everyone knows that Kane has some baggage, but I think his on ice play can overshadow his off ice behavior. I’m sure that Kane would greatly help out a team that is actually in the Wild Card hunt or playoff bound. I would be bummed out if Kane got traded, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But honestly, I don’t think Kane is going anywhere. Remember, General Manager Tim Murray specifically went after him in the Jets trade. He gave a lot for an injured player, who didn’t even play for the Blue & Gold until the following season.
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We all know that the Mark Pysyk/Dmitry Kulikov trade was a complete bust for Buffalo. If Kulikov isn’t injured, then he’s a non-factor on the ice. He hasn’t really helped out Buffalo on the blue line. On January 31st, he finally netted his first career goal as a Sabre. He had 1 goal, 1 assist, and is -8 on the season (https://www.nhl.com/player/dmitry-kulikov-8475179) while Pysyk has 2 goals, 6 assists, and is +1 on the season for the Panthers (https://www.nhl.com/player/mark-pysyk-8475796). Most fans were not thrilled with the trade last summer…looks like this one came to bite GMTM in the dupa. Kulikov hasn’t really helped the Sabres this season. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Knowing our luck, if GMTM ships him out, he’ll be a fireball for whichever team he gets dealt to.
As for Brian Gionta, his contract expires at the end of this season. Additionally, he has a no trade clause in his contract, so I don’t see him going anywhere. A few weeks ago, I was listening to the Buffalo Sabres game on the radio. During the intermission, Brian Koziol said that Gionta wanted to come back next year and play for the Sabres, eluding to the fact that Gionta eventually wants to retire as a Sabre.
If anything, I could see GMTM coming up with a trade deal out of left field. You have to remember that Zemgus Girgensons, Matt Moulson, Nick Deslauriers, Tyler Ennis, and Marcus Foligno came from the “old régime” GMTM inherited them from his predecessor. Don’t be surprised if a fan favorite or two gets shipped out.
At the end of the day, when and if GMTM wheels and deals some players, I hope that he gets some actual bodies as opposed to draft picks. Yes, draft picks are nice, but it’s years before we see these players in the system…you draft an 18 or 20 year old kid. They finish up school or juniors, then play on some minor league team before being good enough to joining the big leagues; it takes years. I would rather take a decent prospect already in someone’s system. Let’s face it, the Sabres are already in Year 10 of rebuilding, do we need to add another 5 years of rebuilding?