Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, the Buffalo Sabres will play out the last string of games until the all-important NHL Draft Lottery. The Sabres sit in last place, and those fans who want to see the club “tank,” will be watching their results as well as those of the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes. The deadline was a time for the Sabres to move out some older players who are soon to be unrestricted free agents, and pick up some draft picks to aid in the rebuild. Lets take a look at the moves of general manager Tim Murray and assess how he did.
Buffalo Sabres Trade Deadline Analysis
Trade: Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild for a 2nd round pick 2017
Stewart’s trade was the most interesting one from Buffalo when it comes to “tank” talk. Yes, he was going to become a UFA in the summer but was he honestly only worth a 2nd round pick in 2017, especially when the deal includes retaining 50% of his salary? The asking price per reports was at least a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2015, or less preferably in 2016. The Sabres held out for too long on dealing the 6’2″ forward, who is a great addition to any playoff contender and was more valuable than the return Sabres got. It’s interesting to mention that Stewart found out that he was traded on live television. One should wonder, isn’t the general manager of the team the one to break the news to his player?
Trade: Michal Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for Chad Johnson and a 2016 3rd round pick.
First, the team traded their starter Jhonas Enroth, and at the time it was Michal Neuvirth’s turn to take the leading role between the pipes. Neuvirth had been outstanding ever since then as the top netminder of the team and was traded to a contender for…Well, let’s just say a backup goalie that hasn’t shown anything at all this season on a contending team. Buffalo needed a goalie, but they needed a prospect goalie like Malcolm Subban of Boston – even Tampa Bay’s Kristers Gudlevskis could be a fit. Johnson is signed for this year and next, but can he be a starter when Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, not to mention Sam Reinhart and the recently-acquired Evander Kane, are ready to play for the Sabres? Not at all, as this is another plain awful “tank” trade by the team.
Trade: Brian Flynn (F) to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2016 5th round pick
Flynn was one of the rare players on the Sabres roster that you just couldn’t say was bad, and he was one of the team’s leaders on and off the ice. The numbers didn’t show much of his leadership but one can’t blame him for what seems to be a team problem. He is another pending UFA, but a 5th round pick in 2016? This is a trade that makes people question when Buffalo is planning on finishing their rebuild. In ten years? Obviously Flynn’s value wasn’t high but then again, it’s a 5th rounder in next year’s draft, which could have been a 6th in 2015. Not much of a loss, as this was an unexpected trade made by Murray, but this seems to be a top-two trade for Sabres this year.
Trade: Torrey Mitchell (F) to the Montreal Canadiens for Jack Nevins and a 2016 7th round draft pick.
Mitchell, a Montreal native and a great third line centerman, was obviously the type of player needed by the Habs, and they were ready to pay. The deal was announced as “Torrey Mitchell to the Canadiens in exchange for a draft pick and a prospect.” Sabres fans cheered, hoping they will finally get something decent, but then details came in: “Prospect – Jack Nevins to Buffalo.” Nevins is only 21 years old, a power forward by trade who will develop and get better, but how much better exactly? He has total of 33 games played in the AHL, and has only one point . He’s racked up the penalty minutes, 103 in total, which sound like enforcer statistics right? Apparently Murray lives in the era when enforcers were a thing. A 7th round pick is a pure lottery ticket, either you get a decent player, or you get someone who will be stuck in the AHL or even the ECHL for the balance of their career. Combine Nevins and the pick together and that sounds more like a 6th or even a 5th rounder. Much better than the Stewart trade but let’s not forget -the Sabres retain 50% of Mitchell’s salary, which makes him even more valuable.
Buffalo gave players to contenders and got something in return, but nothing major. The team could have done better with the quality of the net return, but there is always a chance that someone like Stewart returns and gets a contract the likes of Matt Moulson, who got traded mid-season last year, coming back on a five-year, $25 million contract.
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