The Buffalo Sabres aren’t going to make the playoffs this year. It would take a Disney-movie quality miracle for this team to put together a hot enough run to make the postseason, which means that both the brass and fans are looking forward instead of glancing at the score board on a nightly basis.
Thomas Vanek has already been traded out of town, and the return was top notch. Buffalo secured more assets than the Calgary Flames did when they traded Jarome Iginla or Jay Bouwmeester when they picked up a first-round pick, a second-round pick and Matt Moulson for the sniper.
That deal is just the tip of the trade iceberg for Buffalo though. The team is clearly trying to build through the draft, so more top selections are on the way. Here’s a quick look at the top trade assets for the Sabres.
Matt Moulson isn’t expected to finish the season in Buffalo. He already put up with one rebuild with the New York Islanders, only to get traded into another similar situation once the Isles finally started to get real. Ouch. A contender will come knocking for the pending free agent, and it isn’t hard to imagine someone giving up a first-round selection (and perhaps more) for the bona fide and proven goal scorer.
Ryan Miller will continue to have his name circulated in rumors until he’s actually traded. With the rate that starting netminder are going down this season, a team will come knocking sooner or later. A team like the Edmonton Oilers could suddenly evolve from basement dweller to cusp team with the addition of a goalie like Miller. The price is likely to be a combination of prospects and picks, further stocking the cupboard for Buffalo.
Captain Steve Ott will be a free agent this summer, and is the kind of player that contenders love to add for the stretch run. He’s a gritty guy that isn’t easy to play against. He draws penalties and is just as capable of playing on a second line as he is on the fourth. Ott could fetch a second-round selection and some change for the Sabres.
Christian Ehrhoff is a very interesting name that’s been floated as possible trade bait. The offensive-defenseman hasn’t had the impact that Buffalo hoped he would, but he’s still a talented player that can move the puck up ice in a hurry. This would be a more long-term deal for the team trading for him, but the remaining seven years on his current deal come at a very reasonable $4 million a year.
Drew Stafford could be an outstanding depth-scoring add for a top-end team. He will have one year remaining on his contract after this season, and could fit in nicely on a team that’s looking for a boost in the offensive end. Nashville Predators or Phoenix Coyotes anyone?
If the Sabres are able to move all of their assets, the overall haul of picks and prospects could be staggering moving forward.