The 2013 NHL Trade Deadline would go down as one of the more important days in recent history for the Buffalo Sabres. This would go down as the day where Darcy Regier finally came to the realization that this Sabres team was going absolutely nowhere and it was time to rebuild. The first domino to fall in the rebuild was the captain, Jason Pominville. Pominville was traded to the Minnesota Wild for what I believe is a terrific package and I’ll break down the trade in this piece.
2013 1st Round Pick (16)
2014 2nd Round Pick (49)
2014 4th Round Pick (91)
Darcy Regier struck gold in this deal with Chuck Fletcher and the Minnesota Wild. They got a couple of high picks. Johan Larsson was a very nice prospect at that time and he was the captain of team Sweden at the World Jrs. Matt Hackett was thought of as a great goalie prospect at the time of the deal but he didn’t pan out at all. He played a few games for Buffalo during the tank but he is no longer in the Sabres organization. Pommer carved out a nice career with Buffalo and he continued his success in Minnesota recently, he’s regressed and he has a pretty rough contract with a cap hit of $5,600,000 until 2020.
With the 16th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Buffalo selected a big Russian defenseman by the name of Nikita Zadorov. Nikita looked like he was going to be a huge building block going forward for Buffalo. He got to play a handful of games in 2013-2014 but was sent back to London of the OHL. And then he became a regular in the lineup for the tank year of 2014-2015. Zadorov had some struggles in his very short time in Buffalo though. He showed up to camp out of shape and there was an alarm clock incident where he overslept and missed a team meeting. Zadorov was traded at the 2015 NHL Draft and I’ll get into that later.
With the 49th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Buffalo selected Czech winger Vaclav Karabacek from Gatineau of the QMJHL. I’ve liked what I have seen out of Vaclav at development camp for the last 3 years, but for some reason, he just wasn’t able to be a productive player in junior hockey. His best season in the Q was his draft year of 2013-2014 and he just regressed after that. This year was his rookie year in the AHL and he missed quite a bit of time with an injury and struggled at points in the season. I’m not quite closing the door on Karabacek yet but it looks like he’s probably not going to be an NHL player at this point in time.
2015 2nd Round Pick (31)
Very good trade by Tim Murray here. O’Reilly has arguably been Buffalo’s best player since he arrived here and Jamie McGinn put together a nice season in Buffalo before he was traded at the deadline. O’Reilly has already made the All-Star team and he could potentially be Buffalo’s next captain. Mikhail Grigorenko was a complete disappointment in Buffalo and by all accounts, he was disappointing in Colorado as well. The Avs didn’t even protect Grigo in the expansion draft so he may be Vegas bound in the next few days. Zadorov has had his ups and downs in Colorado but he was protected in the expansion draft and will most likely sign an extension with Colorado soon because he’s an RFA. There are always questions surrounding Russian players on if they’ll jump ship to the KHL and that’s a possibility with Grigorenko and Zadorov but I think both will stay in North America as of right now. J.T. Compher looks like he’ll be a good bottom 6 center for Colorado going forward. I think he’ll be the best player that Colorado will receive in this trade. The 31st pick would’ve been nice to keep as there were some good defensemen still on the board at that pick like Travis Dermott and Brandon Carlo. But of course, you have to give up something to get something and unfortunately, some Buffalo fans can’t comprehend that statement.
Update: Grigorenko signed in the KHL but it is rumored that he may be looking to return to the NHL soon.
2016 3rd Round Pick (76)
Many Sabres fans didn’t agree with trading Jamie McGinn but it was probably necessary. We have no idea if Jamie was going to sign with Buffalo or not and Tim Murray always would bang on the I don’t want to lose a player for nothing drum. Buffalo probably dodged a bullet by not signing McGinn anyways. He regressed in Arizona this year and they didn’t even protect him in the expansion draft.
Update: McGinn has since been traded to the Florida Panthers for Jason Demers.
Rights to Jimmy Vesey
2016 3rd Round Pick (76)
One of the deals that Murray got the most hate for right here. I believe that making this deal was worth the gamble 100%. What are the odds that the player that they’d select with that 3rd round pick would even become an NHL player? Slim to none to say the least. And Buffalo had 4 yes 4 3rd round picks going into the 2016 Draft. Vesey, of course, didn’t opt to sign with Buffalo and he signed an ELC with the New York Rangers last August.
2018 4th Round Pick
2018 3rd Round Pick
Highway robbery as far as I’m concerned by Jason Botterill. Marco Scandella is an established top 4 defenseman in the NHL and that’s exactly what Buffalo is in need of. Marco as of right now I’m sure is pencilled to play alongside Rasmus Ristolainen for the start of the 2018 season. Buffalo also reacquired Jason Pominville which probably caught everyone from Buffalo off guard. I would’ve never thought that Pommer would come back to Buffalo but I actually kind of like the reacquisition of Pominville. Yeah, he has a hefty contract at 5,600,000 for the next 2 years but Pommer can still play at a relatively high level. Pominville led the Wild in 5 on 5 scoring in 16-17 and that’s a category that Buffalo was miserably bad last season. Normally I don’t like the idea of bringing back guys who played for Buffalo in the past but I’m okay with bringing Pominville back because he really didn’t cost the Sabres much at all. But let’s be real here, Pominville isn’t the player that he was from back in 2008 and it’s probably not even close. Sabres fans really shouldn’t lose any sleep over Foligno and Ennis. Ennis hasn’t been very healthy over the last two seasons and when he’s been healthy, he was mediocre at best. Not to mention his cap hit that is just under 5 million for the next two seasons. Foligno has looked like he’s improved over the last couple of seasons but at this point in his career he is what he is and he’ll never become that Milan Lucic type player that Sabres fans always wanted him to become. Now maybe Ennis and Foligno can benefit from this change of scenery but I just don’t foresee that happening. As far as I’m concerned, Buffalo got the two best players in the trade. I think it’s pretty clear here that for the sake of the Minnesota Wild organization, Chuck Fletcher should probably stop trading with Buffalo.
Update: Tyler Ennis has been bought out by the Wild. The Wild selected Jack McBain with the third rounder that they acquired in this trade.
With the fourth round pick that Buffalo acquired in the Scandella trade, they selected Swedish defenseman, Linus Lindstrand-Cronholm. Not much was known about him when he was picked. He was kind of a mystery pick like 2017 third rounder, Oskari Laaksonen.
Jason Botterill made a big splash on July 1 by trading Ryan O’Reilly. Ever since O’Reilly made his comments about losing his love for hockey on locker cleanout day, there were rumors that he could be on his way out of Buffalo. The Sabres acquired five pieces for O’Reilly in Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, as well as a 2019 1st and a 2021 2nd. Personally, I really like this trade for Buffalo but both teams did fairly well in this trade. From a Blues perspective, they clear out a little cap space and get a good top two centerman that can play a lot of minutes. They also unload a couple unfavorable contracts in Berglund and Sobotka. On top of that, they didn’t have to include one of their two “untouchable” prospects in Robert Thomas or Jordan Kyrou.
From a Buffalo perspective, they completely change the face of the team. Whether you like O’Reilly or not you have to admit that they had to dramatically change the core after what happened last season. Evander Kane, Robin Lehner, and Ryan O’Reilly are all gone now and Jason Botterill has now officially put his stamp on this team. Also with O’Reilly gone, there is no debating that this is Jack Eichel’s team. He will be the next captain and I think his production will drastically increase with a greater role with O’Reilly gone.
The most intriguing piece to this trade for me is Tage Thompson. He’s a big power forward that can absolutely rip the puck. He’s not as good as Thomas or Kyrou but Buffalo is still getting a very good prospect in Thompson. He will be in Buffalo’s lineup at the start of the season.
I have been seeing a lot of Sabres fans who aren’t happy with the acquisitions of Berglund and Sobotka. I will just say this, yes, their contracts aren’t great but they are still a major upgrade over what they had in their bottom six last year. It sounds like Berglund will be playing center but Sobotka and Thompson are also capable of playing center. I actually am pretty intrigued by Berglund. He’s said to be a very good teammate and someone who is a good character guy for the room. But he missed some time last year and had he played the full season, he would have scored 20 goals. He also had a 24 goal season the year before.
It was rumored that St. Louis was trying hard to dump off Sobotka’s contract so I’m not surprised that he was included in this deal. He has two years left on his deal and I think the contract really isn’t that bad for a quality bottom six winger. He left for the KHL for a few seasons and came back for the 2016-2017 playoffs and was one of St. Louis’ best players. But it’s been said that he kind of changed his style of game after playing in the KHL. So maybe he will benefit from a change of scenery in Buffalo.
The first round pick in this trade is huge for Buffalo. Adding the Blues first now gives Buffalo three first rounders for the 2019 draft. The first is top ten protected but three first round picks is three first round picks. I’ve been very vocal about how big these picks are for this team. And it’s not even like Buffalo’s prospect pool is thin either. They’re going to add three top prospects to the organization next year which is absolutely huge for their future. And the second rounder is in 2021 which kind of stinks that they have to wait awhile but they could always move it for something at the trade deadline if they are buyers at the deadline in the next few seasons.
So those are all of the branches of the Jason Pominville trade tree as of right now and here’s how the trade breaks down.
F Johan Larsson
F Vaclav Karabacek
D Marco Scandella
F Jason Pominville
D Linus Lindstrand-Cronholm
F Tage Thompson
F Patrik Berglund
F Vladimir Sobotka
2019 1st round pick
2021 2nd round pick
I think the decision on who won this deal is easy, and that’s the Buffalo Sabres.
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