Which Sabres players will be gone by the trade deadline?

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: (l-r) Jack Eichel
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: (l-r) Jack Eichel /

With the Feb. 26 trade deadline fast approaching, speculation is increasing regarding which Buffalo Sabres players will be moved.

As the Bills prepare for their first playoff game since the 1999 season, the Buffalo Sabres continue to struggle along. With only the Arizona Coyotes below them in the overall standings, this has become an increasingly frustrating and embarrassing campaign.

Following the 4-3 loss on Friday night to the Winnipeg Jets, the Sabres have a 2-5-3 record in their last 10 games. At the halfway point of their regular season, any hopes of qualifying for the playoffs are fading fast.

With this in mind, thoughts turn to the looming trade deadline. Whether the Sabres want to admit it or not, they’re going to be sellers between now and Feb. 26.

The question is, who is most likely to be moved? In theory, Jack Eichel is the only player who is safe, although we would put Ryan O’Reilly into that category as well.

Regardless, the main player who has continually been mentioned in trade scenarios, is Evander Kane. The latest team to be connected to him is the Pittsburgh Penguins, during an appearance by the excellent Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet 650.

In an ideal world, the Buffalo Sabres would obviously prefer to keep Kane, who is enjoying a fine season, is still relatively young and seems to have finally matured. However, if he is showing no inclination towards signing a contract extension, they need to get something for him, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer.

In terms of the Penguins’ apparent interest specifically, they might struggle to remain under the salary cap, if they hope to add Kane. As per Brian La Rose of Pro Hockey Rumors, their best hope might be if the Sabres are willing to retain any of the winger’s salary.

Aside from Kane, the Buffalo Sabres are reportedly receiving calls regarding numerous players. More specifically, as per Craig Custance of The Athletic, this apparently includes Benoit Pouliot, Johan Larsson and Jacob Josefson.

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Of the three, Pouliot is — theoretically at least — the most intriguing. However, he has never consistently lived up to the potential which saw him picked fourth overall, in the 2005 NHL draft.

This is why the Buffalo Sabres were able to sign the 31-year-old to a bargain one-year, $1.15 million contract. He’s been of some use, specifically in playing on the penalty kill unit, but the fact he was a healthy scratch for Friday’s game in Winnipeg speaks volumes.

Turning to Larsson and Josefson, in many ways they are extremely similar. Both are considered to have some upside, albeit compromised by their inability to produce consistently.

All in all, it is clear that of the four players mentioned, the Sabres would arguably most like to retain Kane. However, with him also representing the most potential value, it will be interesting to see how things play out in the lead-up to the deadline.

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Which of the players mentioned, do you believe are most likely to be moved between now and Feb. 26? Or is there anyone else in particular, who you can see the Buffalo Sabres trading away? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.