The 2017 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone for teams across the league. To some Sabres fans it was a disappointing trade deadline as Tim Murray was unable to unload his upcoming UFAs or make any “hockey trades”. While it may be a “speed bump in the plan”, as Murray put it, it was a minor one.
Many Sabres fans were surprised and some relatively discouraged that Tim Murray was unable to make any trades. Fans have been accustomed to being sellers at the deadline. From 2012 to 2016 the Sabres have made 14, of what I would call “sellers trades”. So when the clock hit 3:00 PM today, I too was a surprised that Tim Murray did not make any deals. I was almost certain that Dimitry Kulikov and Cody Franson would get moved, with the outside possibility that Anders Nilsson or even Evander Kane would get moved as well.
After the first news broke that the Sabres were standing pat this year, I read through Twitter. A lot of fans were somewhat agitated with the lack of activity. Tim Murray himself even said he was disappointed that he couldn’t make a deal. Although I was surprised that no deals were made today, it isn’t the end of the world. Our rebuild isn’t over and trading Dimitry Kulikov or Cody Franson for a mid round pick surely wouldn’t have contributed much to it. I believe in trading pending UFAs at the deadline. I think it’s a smart strategy and Tim Murray has been on record stating that is what he would do if the Sabres are ever out of the playoff race.
In this case the inability to trade Kulikov probably had more to do with his injury than anything. He has been disappointing this season and I do think his injury has hindered him from showing his true potential. I’ll go on record here saying that I would try to resign Kulikov this offseason. A two year deal between $2-3 million dollars is probably where I would offer, but I’m no GM. Kulikov could very well get more in the open market. On the other hand, Franson should have likely been dealt. I think it’s time to move on from him once the season is over. He is too slow for today’s NHL. The Sabres need to add more puck movers and defenseman that can get up ice and join the rush.
While it may be a little speed bump for the process, this trade deadline shouldn’t slow this rebuild. The Sabres need to finish the season strong and start building a culture of winning. We, as fans, sometimes seem to forget that these are humans we’re dealing with. They have feelings and the chemistry in the locker room is what will help translate to the success that happens on this ice. We’re only two years removed from one of the worst teams in NHL history. Rome wasn’t built in one night and I don’t think Tim Murray is Nero because he didn’t trade Cody Franson for a 4th round pick. (Russ Brandon might actually be Nero though.)
I expect more moves and trades to pick up in the offseason. Tim Murray is always looking for hockey deals to be made and I think this summer will be a perfect time with the expansion draft looming. Additions on the back end and shoring up the bottom six forwards should be a top priority for the Sabres. The lack of activity at this years deadline will be made up for come the offseason.