A couple of roster moves and recent performances potentially allude to the Buffalo Sabres preparing to make a move before Monday’s trade deadline.
There’s no denying the Buffalo Sabres‘ performances in their last two games against the Tampa Bay Lightening and Washington Capitals, were among their best of the season. And after picking up three points out of a possible four against two of the NHL’s top teams, it may have also persuaded them they still have a decent chance at a playoff spot.
Under these circumstances, there is a good possibility the Sabres may attempt to make a trade ahead of Monday’s deadline, in order to strengthen the team. This assumption is further fueled by a couple of roster moves made on Saturday.
As per Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News, the Sabres recalled Daniel O’Regan and Scott Wilson from the Rochester Amerks, ahead of the game against the Capitals. In theory, at least one of these moves was necessary, after Kyle Okposo was placed on injured reserve. (The other move saw blue liner Lawrence Pilut sent to the Amerks.)
However, you have to wonder why O’Regan and Wilson specifically, were called up by the Sabres? Zach Leach of Pro Hockey Rumors believes that an ulterior motive is at hand, i.e. showcasing the two forwards for a potential trade.
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Starting with Wilson, Leach explains he has been buried in the minors of late and doesn’t seem to be in the Sabres’ long-term plans. He played his first NHL game of the season on Saturday, registering four shots and two hits in 11:52 of ice time against the Capitals.
Turning to O’Regan, as per the CBA, he is headed for Group 6 unrestricted free agency in the summer after not playing in the NHL this season. He has five points (one goal and four assists) in 24 career NHL games and was part of the trade last year, which saw Evander Kane join the San José Sharks.
Actually, the Kane trade is important, as it alludes to another aspect which could help the Sabres make a trade before 3:00 pm ET on Monday. When Kane re-signed in San José, Buffalo received a conditional 2019 first round draft pick.
We say conditional, because if the Sharks fail to make the playoffs this season, the Sabres will receive their 2020 first round pick instead. While nothing is guaranteed yet, it doesn’t appear this will happen, with San José occupying second place in the Western Conference entering Sunday’s slate of games.
Essentially, what this all means is that as things stand, the Sabres have three first round picks heading into the 2019 NHL draft. (The first round pick received from St. Louis as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade, only potentially becomes a 2020 first round pick if the Blues finish this season with a top 10 pick.)
In other words, the Sabres are in an excellent position to entice other teams; they have enough first round picks in reserve to help swing any deal which could upgrade their roster for their playoff push this season, while still building for the long-term future. Of course, the question is how much value do Wilson and O’Regan offer as part of a potential trade?
Essentially, they are the same type of player. Both are seen as solid playmakers with some upside, but also considered slightly undersized for the rigors of the NHL.
Is the combination of players and draft picks enough to persuade another team to enter into a trade with the Sabres? This is what we will wait to find out between now and Monday’s 3:00 pm ET deadline.
What’s your opinion of the Buffalo Sabres’ position prior to the deadline? Do you predict they will make a trade or not? Let us know in the comments section below.