Drew Stafford (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Sabres were a busy bunch in the days leading up to the 2013 NHL trade deadline, but you can expect many more moves this summer. Who will stay and who will go? Let's take a look....
Buffalo Sabres rookie GM Tim Murray was very busy in the days leading up to the March 5 trade deadline. His biggest move was shipping goaltender Ryan Miller and winger Steve Ott to St. Louis for a return that included goalie Jaroslav Halak and right winger Chris Stewart.
Other moves included dealing left winger Matt Moulson and center Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild for center Torrey Mitchell and draft picks, plus flipping Halak to the Washington Capitals for netminder Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla. And Murray intends to continue pursuing deals in the off-season.
“I’m not done,” Murray told The Buffalo News’ John Vogl following the deadline. “There’s a lot of building to do.”
As Vogl observed, the Sabres have five first-round picks, a conditional first-rounder, six second-round picks plus a conditional second-rounder over the next three drafts. Murray considers those picks, along with the young players he’s added, as bargaining chips going into this year’s draft to pursue young talent who weren’t available at the trade deadline.
Murray could also attempt to move a couple of players currently under long-term contracts. Prior to the trade deadline, ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported defenseman Tyler Myers could be had for the right price. Myers is in the second season of a seven-year, $38.5-million deal. TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested the 24-year-old rearguard could be a fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks or Colorado Avalanche.
Christian Ehrhoff is another Sabre who could be shopped this summer. Prior to deadline day, the 31-year-old blueliner complied with the Sabres request to submit a list of eight teams to which he wouldn’t accept a trade. He’s in the third year of a 10-year, $40-million contract, of which $22 million has already been paid out. Before the deadline it was rumored the Detroit Red Wings were interested in him.
It’s not a certainty Murray will move Myers or Ehrhoff, but he will likely entertain offers. Murray could also attempt to peddle under-achieving center Ville Leino, who’s halfway through a six-year, $27-million contract. With an average cap hit of $4.5 million, Leino is also a buyout candidate in June.
Jeff Gordon of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently listed Stewart and winger Drew Stafford among other trade possibilities. Stewart was linked to the Ottawa Senators before and after his trade to Buffalo. Stafford has one season remaining on his contract at $4 million.
Murray also has several restricted free agents to re-sign, particularly center Tyler Ennis, winger Marcus Foligno, defenseman Jamie McBain and recently acquired forward Cory Conacher. Notable unrestricted free agents include veteran blueliner Henrik Tallinder, center Zenon Konopka and enforcer John Scott.
With $36.9 million invested in 13 players for 2014-15, Murray could also be active in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. He’ll have his work cut out for him attracting free agent talent to the rebuilding Sabres. His aggressive wheeling and dealing should significantly reshape the Sabres roster by summer’s end.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.