In this part of the 2017 NHL trade deadline preview, I’ll be going over a list of players that I consider to be sleeper picks to be traded by this Wednesday’s trade deadline. And I’ll also be running listing the players who aren’t going anywhere.
The Sleeper Picks
Marcus Foligno is having a very nice season this year. Foligno has shown quite a bit of growth over the last two seasons and he’ll be a restricted free agent this offseason. The Sabres biggest need at the moment is to upgrade their defense and Foligno is a guy that I believe that Tim Murray can dangle out on the trade market to lure a defenseman here. Ideally, I would like to see Foligno get shipped out to the western conference in the event that he would actually be traded. Some teams that I could envision wanting Marcus Foligno include the Anaheim Ducks, the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames, and the Edmonton Oilers.
Zemgus Girgensons has been an interesting player to think about when assessing the future of the Buffalo Sabres. During the tank years, Girgensons looked like a bonafide future top 6 center but last season he was just so disappointing and didn’t look like his old self. At the start of this season, he was invisible on most nights and ever since Johan Larsson went down with his arm injury Girgensons really started to play much better. It was rumored that Tim Murray was getting calls on Zemgus but he was lowballed on the offers because he wasn’t getting much ice time. I believe that Girgensons could be had for the right price. If Murray gets an offer of a defenseman who happens to be the same age as Girgensons who could play in our top 6 I think he would take the offer. I think there will be many teams inquiring on Girgensons on trade deadline day but there is another center on the Sabres that I would prefer to be moved.
Johan Larsson was putting together a very nice season but it was cut short to an arm injury sustained against the Boston Bruins in December. Now it sounds kind of crazy that the Sabres would be able to trade a guy who will be out for the remainder of the season. But I think there’s a chance that Larsson could be moved to a team like the Colorado Avalanche or the Arizona Coyotes who’s seasons are pretty much worthless and there is no chance for them to make the playoffs. Once again, if Buffalo could land a young defenseman who could play in our top 6 in return for Larsson I think Murray would move him. I don’t think Tim Murray will be in any rush to trade either Girgensons or Larsson but within the next couple of seasons, Rasmus Asplund will surely be taking one of their spots as the 3rd line center. Both Girgensons and Larsson will be restricted free agents and both of them are on very cheap contracts that will end this offseason. I expect that both of them will get a raise.
Nick Baptise/Hudson Fasching/Justin Bailey/William Carrier
The reason that I’m listing these 4 players is because there is no way that all 4 of them will all be able to be on the Sabres roster. It’s just impossible when you factor in that Alex Nylander, Rasmus Asplund, and the possibility of another top 10 pick in the 2017 draft joining our forward group in the next couple of seasons. I think it would be a waste of their talent to have one of them in Rochester next season so Murray might as well move one of them to get help on defense. It will certainly be a difficult choice to determine which of the 4 has to go but it is necessary.
Evander Kane has been nothing short of spectacular since December. He has 21 goals since then and 20 out of the 21 have come at even strength. Now it may sound insane to even suggest trading a guy who has been playing so well for the team lately but I think that this is just an inevitable move that Tim Murray will make. Evander will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason and I’m positive he will be looking for a big raise from his $5,250,000 cap hit. Kane has had his fair share of off ice problems since he was acquired by the Sabres in 2015 and after his incident at a bar the day of the 2016 draft he was rumored to have little to no trade value. Fans wanted him bought out or traded for a bag of pucks but now that value is probably the highest it will ever get. I don’t think Kane will be traded at the trade deadline unless Tim Murray gets his socks knocked off. I only see Kane being traded if there is a young top pairing left handed defenseman coming in return. a perfect example of this is Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks. Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 said it perfectly a couple days ago. If you don’t agree with both of the following statements Kane has to be traded. Can you trust Evander Kane to stay clean off of the ice? And are you confident that the Sabres will be able to sign Kane to an extension while they have to also lock up Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart? It would just be terrible asset management if the Sabres let Kane walk on July 1st, 2018. You have to ask yourself how are the Sabres going to acquire a top pairing defenseman to play with Ristolainen. The Sabres will not be moving Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, or Kyle Okposo to achieve that goal. That leaves Sam Reinhart or Evander Kane as trade chips to drastically upgrade our defense and I’m sure that Tim Murray will not be very eager to trade his 1st draft pick as the Sabres GM away.
Now it’s time to get into the guys who will untradeable
Matt Moulson is nothing more than a shell of his former self. In the 2014-2015 offseason, Tim Murray gifted Moulson a 5 year 25 million dollar contract. That signing has been a complete bust. I highly doubt that Vegas will take him in the expansion draft just solely based on his age. He’s having a much better season this year in comparison to last year but he is certainly not a 5 million dollar player at this stage of his career. Moulson is a strong candidate to be bought out this offseason. In the event that Moulson is bought out, it would cost the Sabres $2,833,333 in cap space next year, $3,833,333 in 2018-2019, and $833,333 the following 2 seasons.
Gorges is just simply not good anymore and like Matt Moulson, he will also be a buyout candidate this offseason. If Gorges is bought out it would cost the Sabres $1,300,000 in cap space for the next 2 seasons. I highly doubt that Vegas will claim him in the expansion draft. If Gorges remains on the Sabres roster for next season, I do think he could be moved as a rental to a cup contender. Like I mentioned before, the Sabres need to drastically improve their blueline if they want to make the playoffs next year and Josh Gorges will hopefully not be a part of that blueline next season.
I like Zach Bogosian as a player. He’s a great skater and he has all the tools to be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. But the problem with him is just that he can’t process the game well at all and his contract is absolutely dreadful. Also, he is always injured. I pray that the Sabres are able to acquire a defenseman worth protecting alongside of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe so we can expose Bandaid Bogo to Vegas so that terrible contract is off of the Sabres books.
during the tank, Tyler Ennis was without a doubt the Sabres best player and he looked like he would be a nice piece for the Sabres going forward. Last season he suffered a really bad concussion and he was never the same old Tyler Ennis that we all knew and loved. He looks lost out on the ice on most nights. Ennis has been in Dan Bylsma’s dog house as of late and I’m not a very big fan of the Sabres paying Ennis 4.6 million dollars for 2 more seasons. I think Tim Murray will leave him exposed in the expansion draft and Vegas will hopefully select either Ennis or Bogosian.
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