The Buffalo Sabres gave up a lot to acquire defenceman Brandon Montour, but they could lose him for nothing if reports are to be believed.
Brandon Montour has had a difficult time since being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, and it appears as if the team are ready to cut their losses with the defenceman when his contract expires.
The 26-year-old’s two-year, $3,387,500 AAV contract comes to an end once free agency begins and the Sabres have the opportunity of qualifying him as he will be a restricted free agent.
However, after struggling to live up to expectations in upstate New York, it appears as if the team are willing to allow Montour to become an unrestricted free agent and find employment with another NHL organisation.
This reportedly comes from Sportsnet‘s 31 Thoughts podcast, where Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed it as a possibility.
In order to acquire Montour from the Anaheim Ducks at the 2019 trade deadline, the Sabres handed over a first-round draft pick, San Jose’s 29th pick, which was used on forward Brayden Tracey, as well as defenceman prospect Brendan Guhle.
Montour wasn’t terrible after moving to Buffalo, however, it is clear when he is on the ice that opposing teams are allowed far more opportunities in front of the net than when he is off, something that may not necessarily be his fault, but is concerning with him needing a new contract.
He hasn’t produced offensively at the same rate as when he was in Anaheim, on pace for around 27 total points over an 82-game season in 2019-20, with five goals and 18 total points in 54 games before the Coronavirus pandemic shut the regular season down.
New general manager Kevyn Adams will be keen to make his mark on the team early on, as he has done with the hiring of Seth Appert as head coach of the Rochester Americans, so allowing Montour to walk in free agency for nothing would be quite a surprising move.
Adams could look to secure a trade with another NHL club to at the very least acquire an asset or two before the possibility of giving him up for free ever emerges.
There’s no realistic scenario where the Sabres would earn anything close to what they gave up to acquire the Brantford, Ontario native, but it would be much better for Adams to get something rather than nothing.
Teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs could be worth making contact with, especially considering their serious defensive issues and the need to offload contracts, with some intriguing offensive talents expected to be available this off-season.
The Buffalo Sabres have a tonne of cap space to fill ahead of the 2020-21 season and there’s no reason why they should simply walk away from Montour when they could at least explore the possibilities of a trade, even if it means the team will need to qualify the defenceman to do it.