It’s expected to be yet another quiet trade deadline for the Buffalo Sabres this year. The 2019 NHL trade deadline is right around the corner and there’s a big decision looming for Sabres general manager, Jason Botterill.
For the first time in many years, it might not be out of the question for the Sabres to be buyers at the deadline. Although it’s well known at this point that Buffalo will not be in the market for rentals, there is still a possibility that the Sabres could look to add younger players that can help them this season, as well as years down the road.
The more likely route that Botterill will be taking on Monday’s trade deadline is the route that we’ve all seen since 2012, and that is selling. The Sabres don’t have that much to sell this year as Jason Pominville and Jeff Skinner are the only players on the roster that will be unrestricted free agents this offseason.
At this point in time, it would be a great surprise if Jeff Skinner is traded before the 3:00 deadline on Monday. Skinner and the Sabres have been in contract negotiations over the last month or so and it looks like neither side is really in a rush to get a deal done, so don’t be shocked if there is no extension in place by the trade deadline on Monday.
It’s also worth noting here that Skinner has a full no movement clause in his contract that carried over when he was traded to Buffalo from the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason. So even if the Sabres wanted to trade him to avoid a potential disaster on July 1st if there was no contract extension, Skinner would have to approve of the trade. So Skinner has all of the leverage here.
Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet, has talked about Jason Pominville on the 31 Thoughts Podcast recently. Friedman believes that the Sabres might look to trade Pominville at the deadline.
Pominville had a fantastic start to the season when he was on a line with Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel, but had a really long stretch where the points just weren’t coming for him and he was barely noticeable on the ice. Recently, Pominville has played better but he is still lacking consistency.
Keep in mind, Pominville has a no trade clause in his contract, which allows him to submit a 10 team no trade list to the Sabres. As of a couple weeks ago, Pominville wasn’t asked by the Sabres to submit his list of teams the he wouldn’t want to be traded to.
I would be really surprised if Pominville is traded before the deadline but you just never know. Jason Botterill has alluded to possibly bringing up some players from the Rochester Americans but they’re going to have to make some trades here if they want to bring players up from Rochester. Trading Pominville would allow the Sabres to bring up a player like Victor Olofsson or Alex Nylander for the rest of the season.
As far as a return in a Pominville trade goes, don’t expect a lot in return if he’s moved. Pominville’s contract isn’t the greatest as he carries a cap hit of $5,600,000 for the remainder of the season. That’s obviously not going to be an easy contract to move, especially considering that contending teams will be the ones trading for him and they’d likely be close to the salary cap. So Buffalo would have to retain a large portion of Pominville’s salary to make it work.
With Carl Hagelin fetching the L.A. Kings a 3rd and a 6th round pick, expect that the Sabres would get something comparable to that. The Kings did retain some of Hagelin’s salary as well, which most likely boosted his vale in a trade.
After Pominville and Skinner, there are no more pending unrestricted free agents currently on Buffalo’s roster, but they have several pending restricted free agents that may attract some interest.
Nathan Beaulieu has been a name that has been out there for awhile now. He requested a trade from the Sabres back in January as he is unhappy that he hasn’t been in the lineup much this season.
Beaulieu is the most likely Sabre to be dealt at the deadline in my opinion. He’s still kind of young and can provide depth for a playoff team. Someone should take a chance on him for a late round pick.
Linus Ullmark, Jake McCabe, Evan Rodrigues, C.J. Smith, Zemgus Girgensons, and Johan Larsson will also be RFAs this offseason in addidtion to Beaulieu. I don’t really see any of those players getting traded just yet. Maybe Botterill will look to move on from one of Zemgus Girgensons or Johan Larsson. I don’t really see the need to have both of them on this team anymore.
No of course there are the players that everyone wants traded somehow in Kyle Okposo, Vladimir Sobotka, and Marco Scandella. I can’t really see any team trading for any of these guys before the deadline on Monday. Other team’s have scouts and watch the Sabres, and after watching these guys play all year, you’re really reaching if you think that any of them can get traded.
Now back to that decision I talked about earlier. Jason Botterill has stated over and over again that he is always looking to improve this team, just as long as the player acquired makes sense for the team in the future.
Giving up assets for rentals would be a horrible course of action for this team, they’re just not there yet to be in the rental market. Now if a young player that can be under team control for several years becomes available before Monday, then by all means the Sabres should be interested but those kind of players usually aren’t moved around the trade deadline. Those are more likely offseason moves for this team.
Again, don’t be devastated if there aren’t a lot of moves by Monday’s 3:00 deadline. There might be a trade or two but I’d be shocked if anything more than that happens.
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