New hockey writer Brian Hardwick‘s debut on HardFoulSports.com!
With the National Hockey League trade deadline approaching, the Buffalo Sabres currently sit in a 6-way tie for last place with 47 points with 30 games left. Sabres GM Tim Murray recently went on a local radio show in Buffalo to give his thoughts on the upcoming deadline “I believe in two weeks or so it’ll be pretty clear what we should do. I don’t have the answer. I’m leaning a certain way, but I’m gonna wait to see what our players and coaching staff do between now and then to show me exactly where we are.” Buffalo will seem to be a seller once again come this year’s deadline on February 29th, but here are 5 moves that Tim Murray can make over the next few weeks to help rebuild and guide the Sabres into the playoffs next year.
1) JAMIE McGINN – At 27 years of age, McGinn is currently 5th on the team in goals (11) and 4th in points (22). McGinn has shown for a “throw away player” in the Ryan O’Reilly deal that he can play against any team. McGinn is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and with the way he has been playing, he could be a huge asset to a contending team. He brings energy to every shift, rather that be scoring scores, getting the puck into the open ice or throwing his body around, Every opposing player has to keep an eye on him at all times. Recently, Buffalo has been rumored to be in talks with McGinn and a possible new contract to keep him a Sabre, but if they can’t get a deal within the next couple of weeks, they should try and get something in return instead of seeing him walk away with nothing.
Ideal suitors for McGinn- LA Kings, Montreal Canadians
2) BRIAN GIONTA – Yes, trading our captain isn’t a bad move to make. The Sabres have had history before with trading captains (Pominville, Ott) so why not consider moving your current captain Gionta? Gionta currently has a no-trade clause, so even if Buffalo wanted to move him, Gionta would have to “Okay” the trade. Gionta has another year on his contract which could possibly lose possible suitors as well. What could attract suitors though is his veteran leadership that can score goals. At age 37, Gionta, who has one cup but may want a shot for one more, would would get a chance if he waives off his no-trade clause and Buffalo can find an accepting team.
Ideal Suitors for Gionta- New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators
3) CHAD JOHNSON- This one seems the most interesting trade to make, considering the Sabres have Robin Lehner, who looks to be the goalie long term for the Sabres and also Linus Ullmark currently down in Rochester. Johnson has stepped in as the starting goalie in 30 games this seasons and has recorded a .918 save percentage which is 19th among active goalies this season. Johnson is more than capable of being a backup goaltender for most contending teams. He has made some incredible stops and game saving moments which could find him all sorts of suitors as well.
Ideal suitors for Johnson- New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild
4) Tyler Ennis – This one might be a hard move to make considering his injury. But, Tyler Ennis is a guy most teams would love to have on their team. He has natural talent and has been one of the Sabres top players over the past 5 seasons. He may not be a guy who gets 40+ goals every season, But, given the talent he had to work with and the numbers he put up, he very well could be a 30+ goal scorer. Ennis brings high energy with his quick speed and puck movement. He can skate in the open ice. If healthy, he will be the Sabres most valuable trade bait.
Ideal suitors for Ennis- Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers
5.) Draft Picks- As of today, Buffalo currently holds 11 draft picks in the 2016 NHL Draft. Ideally if you trade guys like Ennis, Johnson, McGinn, etc… you’ll be getting picks in return. So why not take all those picks and try and use them to move up in the draft which is being held in Buffalo this year. They could also use all these picks to trade for prospects or even package a huge deal to try and get a guy like Steven Stamkos or Jonathan Drouin.
– Brian Hardwick (@BHardwick8)