NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Buffalo Sabres

NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Buffalo Sabres
What can a down-on-its-luck Buffalo franchise do to speed up the rebuild this week? (Photo: NHL.com/Sabres)

The Buffalo Sabres have been an absolute train wreck this season. Very inconsistent play and injuries have derailed what seemed to be a promising season, that started with an extension for young franchise player Jack Eichel.

The Sabres have again found themselves at the bottom of the league, and seemingly destined for another top three lottery pick in the Draft. The team is 14-29-10 with 38 points, which has them eighth in the Atlantic Division.

With the deadline quickly approaching, and mired in a horrid campaign, the Sabres will no doubt be sellers one again this season; they do have multiple players who could be dealt to bring back assets that will help them going forward.

With Eichel being the only essentially untouchable player on the roster, anyone else could be had for the right deal and price.

Fellow star center Ryan O’Reilly and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are very unlikely to be moved. Both players are on long-term deals, and seem to be key contributors for the team going forward. O’Reilly also carries a heavy cap load at $7.25 million, which is difficult to move. The Sabres would have to be absolutely blown away by a deal in order to move either one.

The most likeliest player to be moved is winger Evander Kane. He is a top scoring option, young, and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Kane has 16 goals, 20 assists and 36 points in 53 games. His character is called into question, though, for his off the ice problems and allegedly poor clubhouse presence.

The Sabres could have missed their chance to move Kane, who has cooled off recently and has been dropped to the third line. Kane started the season on fire ,and was the key player for most of the early season. Buffalo is supposedly looking for a first round pick, an NHL contributor and a prospect for Kane; that seems unlikely, unless Kane goes on another hot streak before the Deadline.

The Sabres have also received calls on their goaltenders, Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson. Both goalies have had rough patches filled with inconsistent play this season, though Lehner has played much better as of late.

Lehner owns 11 wins, 20 losses, seven overtime losses, a 2.83 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage in 53 games this season. Johnson has two wins, nine losses, three overtime losses, a 3.67 goals against average, and a .884 save percentage.

Sam Reinhart is the last player I believe will be dealt. The former number two overall pick in 2014 has never become the player that the team was hoping to get when he was drafted. Reinhart has bounced back and forth between wing and center, and has not been able to find his groove in the NHL.

Reinhart has all the potential to be a star in the league, but has vastly underperformed in his career, which makes it tough to decide whether to trade him or not. He owns 10 goals, 13 assists and 23 points this season.  The Sabres could look to move him in a deal for either picks and/or prospects or include in a package to acquire immediate help.

Regardless of who the Sabres trade, the team will definitely have a new look after 4 pm on February 27th. The team will look to gain the assets and cap space that will help them make a big splash this off-season. Sabres GM Jason Botterill will be a very busy man at the Deadline.

 

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About Tyler Winans 22 Articles
I'm Tyler Winans the Massachusetts Sports and Buffalo Sabres writer for Blue HQ Media. I also cover Team USA hockey. I am an avid sports fan but follow baseball, hockey and basketball extensively. I am a Boston Red Sox fan and have been since I was a young kid, likewise for the Buffalo Sabres. I am also a huge Boston Celtics fan, pre big 3. Becoming a sports writer always seemed like a distant dream but fortunately I was able to joing Blue HQ Media. Now I'm a living my dream through this amazing company.

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