Category Archives: Buf. Sabres

Five players who are likely to be moved at the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is almost upon us, and so far it is unclear what will happen when it officially rolls around. With expansion on the horizon, trades are at an all time low. The market is stagnant. However, that could change when teams feel the crunch before playoff time. Here are five players likely to move at or before the February 28th trade deadline. 

1. Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche

The ex-Calgary Flames captain bounced around for some time in the NHL before landing a four year contract with Colorado. He has reached the last year of that deal, but things are not going well in the Mile High City between player and team. 

Iginla only has five goals and 11 points in 39 games this season. The 39 year old right winger has lost a considerable amount of speed and skill over the years. 

Despite all that, Iginla can be a valuable asset for a team in the playoff hunt. He provides a great deal of leadership and still has the scoring touch in him that can be revitalized. 

If the Flames stay in the race in the Pacific, a trade back “home” would be quite the story. Montreal makes sense as well.  

2. Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes

Things are not much better in Arizona than they are in Colorado. The Coyotes sit second to last in the league despite having a promising 2015-2016 campaign. 

Lucky for them, they have a number of assets to deal at the deadline, one of them being Martin Hanzal. In the last year of his five year deal, Hanzal, 29, carries a $3.1 million cap hit. 

Although he does not put up a large amount of points, Hanzal is revered for his two-way game. His career high in points came last season with 41. 

Hanzal is the best fit for any team looking for center help at the deadline. Minnesota maybe?

3. Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes

Stone is another asset the Coyotes hold. He is Arizona’s second best defenseman behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson and he has really solidified himself as a top-four mainstay in recent years. 

Stone would likely be classified as a defensive defenseman. He does not put up goals (he has zero in 27 games this year), but you get what you pay for and know what to expect night in and night out with Stone. 

I could see a team like Columbus or Edmonton being interested in Stone’s services.  

4. Ryan Spooner, Boston Bruins 

Spooner has had trouble finding his groove since entering the NHL with Boston, who don’t want to lose him for nothing on waivers. 

Spooner was a second round pick in 2010 and had a promising season with Boston last year tallying 49 points, but this season only has 19 points in 40 games. 

A big reason for this may be his shift to wing. With the likes of David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci down the middle, it has been tough for Spooner to gain a consistent center spot in the lineup. 

Spooner still has loads of potential and could thrive in the right situation. The price for him wouldn’t be high, but you certainly won’t get him for pennies on the dollar. 

Possible suitors include Vancouver and Carolina. 

5. Cody Franson

After holding out all the way until training camp when he was a free agent a few summers ago, Cody Franson eventually decided to sign a two year deal with Buffalo. That deal is now ending, and with the Sabres at the bottom of the standings, Franson may become subject to trade rumors. 

Franson’s time in Buffalo has not been anything to write home about. In 85 total games, he has five goals and 21 assists. However, he can still be utilized as an effective defenseman in a bottom-pair role on the correct team. 

Franson is an effective puck mover and is not too far removed from solid seasons with Toronto. 

He probably will not cost much from Buffalo, so it may be worth the risk. 

The Rangers could look at him, as could the Capitals. A Toronto reunion, if they stay in the race, would be interesting as well. 

The trade deadline is 52 days away. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Trade Possibility: Dennis Wideman 

Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames could be on the move this summer. The 33 year old defenseman has one year left on his contract at a 5.25 million cap hit and a 6 million salary.  Read the rest of this entry

Colorado’s Barrie generating tons of interest 

Recently, reports came out from Elliotte Friedman that Tyson Barrie is likely to be moved by the Colorado Avalanche this summer.  Read the rest of this entry

Four potential suitors for Nail Yakupov

News came out yesterday that Nail Yakupov requested a trade from the Oilers prior to February’s trade deadline. The former first overall pick has seen his fair share of struggles in Edmonton, but has nonetheless proved to be a skilled player that can thrive in the correct situation. Many teams will be lining up to try to get Yakupov’s services for their team. 

Ottawa Senators 

The Senators have had a very disappointing year. Although they sit in the top-ten of goals for per game, they still are in need of another weapon up front. If they lose out on Jonathan Drouin, Yakupov would be a good option to fall back on. Ottawa may also be losing key offensive forward Mike Hoffman this offseason, so Yakupov would help fill that hole. 

Montreal Canadiens 

As yet another team up north struggling, Montreal needs to heavily re-evaluate their supporting cast around Carey Price this summer. Would coupling up Nail Yakupov with his half-Russian brethren Alex Galchenyuk, who was taken two picks after Yakupov in 2012, help spark their offense? They run the risk of another failed experiment, like Alex Semin, as there is no guarantee Yakupov will regain his mojo in a new city. 

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are loaded up front with young forwards such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Evander Kane, but Yakupov would be a nice addition to the middle six. The Sabres have dealt with serious depth issues this year with little to no production being brought in by Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, and Brian Gionta among others. 

New York Rangers

The Rangers have a lot more scoring prowess and depth than the aforementioned teams, but Nail Yakupov still could be a fit in the big apple. Slotting him into a second line role would potentially bump down the likes of Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg, but it adds another threat to the Rangers lineup and makes them more dangerous on the wing. 

There will be plenty of suitors with interest in Yakupov, the question that remains is if the Oilers will be willing to sell him for lower than what his ceiling may be. Edmonton has placed themselves in a tough situation, but regardless of what they get in return, it is clear that Yakupov and them both need to move on from each other. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Ladd deal to Chicago has potential to work out for both clubs 

The next big domino of the NHL trading season fell on Thursday night, when the Winnipeg Jets traded captain Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Marko Dano and a first round pick. Other assets were involved, like Jay Harrison and a conditional pick, but the latter was the lump of the deal. 

This will be Ladd’s second stint with Chicago, the city where he won a Stanley Cup in 2010. Ladd was a victim of the first of three large cap crunches Chicago has gone through. 

Both teams make out well on this trade, that is if Chicago wins the Cup again. The Blackhawks brought in Ladd to play along side Jonathan Toews, a spot formerly occupied by a number of players including Ryan Garbutt for a short period of time. 

The package coming back to Winnipeg sets them up quite nicely as well. Marko Dano, although bouncing around a lot from team to team, is a solid player with the potential to be a top-six forward. The Jets also add another first round pick, likely in the 24 to 30 range. The Jets are loaded up front for the future with the likes of Scheifele, Connor, Dano, Lemieux, Petan, Ehlers, Roslovic, and Armia. 

This deal sets up the market for the upcoming days. Beside Loui Eriksson, and maybe Mikkel Boedker depending how desperate teams are, Ladd was probably the priciest option out there. Actually, as the trade rumors came through, I was writing something up saying that teams that lose out on Ladd could potentially go after the similar but cheaper option in Jamie McGinn from Buffalo. Florida and Pittsburgh could be on that. 

We will likely see more trades come through before the deadline, which does take some of the excitement out of Monday, but it’s fun to see trades regardless. 

Other updates: 

-Like the Jets, other teams up north are gathering offers for some of their players before deadline day. Edmonton has been aggressively shopping Justin Schultz. Don’t be surprised if that gets done within 24 hours. Montreal has looked at options for Weise but nothing yet, that’ll probably wait for Monday. 

-A Loui Eriksson trade will likely have to wait until Monday at around 3 o’clock to come in. Boston doesn’t mind holding onto him either. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: one more month until the NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and is now about one month away. Teams are beginning to see whether or not they want to sell their players at the deadline meaning the speculation will continue to increase. 

The Buffalo Sabres are still shopping Tyler Ennis but to no avail yet. He has been disappointing this year and with a crowded top-six of young players in Buffalo, he may not have a spot. Due to his high salary, some will have to be retained. Jamie McGinn is also being looked at around the league, but Buffalo likes him. Could he pull a Matt Moulson and sign back with Buffalo in the summer after being traded? We’ll see. 

The Canucks have been looking around the league for potential suitors for Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis. The latter has had injury problems this year, however Vrbata would be a nice pickup for a team in the playoff hunt. Someone like Florida, Nashville, or one of the New York teams could have interest in the forward. 

The Coyotes are very reluctant to move Mikkel Boedker although nothing is impossible. The Danish left winger is due for a big pay increase from his current 3.75 million.

You wonder what the deal is with Yevgeni Medvedev and the Flyers is. He is a good defenseman and would be great for a playoff run for any team but the Flyers are still in the thick of the playoff race themselves. The Flyers also have an influx of young defensemen coming up through the system which could make Medvedev expendable. 

Keith Yandle continues to be shopped but nothing as of yet. It might be in best interest for the Rangers, given their closing window, to get this playoff run out of him. 

Columbus is expected to be very aggressive at the trade deadline. Although they have no big unrestricted free agents, certain names could be moved out such as Kerby Rychel. The David Clarkson contract has been thrown out there but to no takers. 

The Islanders seem to be at a gridlock with Travis Hamonic and Kyle Okposo. Hamonic’s trade won’t come until the offseason and the Islanders don’t want to give up Okposo for futures so they may end up keeping him and risk losing him to free agency. 

The Jets have equally looked around for Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Nothing is out of the question for the deadline for either player. Ladd is the more feasible option for the team, however. 

Don’t be surprised if the Anaheim Ducks make another move prior to February 29th. Likely a defense for offense move. 

More to come as the trade deadline draws nearer. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Could the Lady Byng winner this year be a defenseman?

Could this be the year we see a defenseman win the Lady Byng again, a feat accomplished only once since 1954? It’s quite possible. 

The player in mind is Rasmus Ristolainen. The Finnish-born defenseman was the 8th overall pick in 2013 and has taken a steady but impressive track to becoming a top defenseman on Buffalo and in the Eastern Conference. His name doesn’t necessarily flash out like Shea Weber or Duncan Keith, but he is a fantastic player. 

Ristolainen has 24 points in 33 games this year, but more impressively has not taken any penalties so far. His last penalty came in March of last season. His average ice time clocking in at just over 24 minutes make this even more impressive. 

Ristolainen is one of the best young defensemen in the league, and even though he may not be Norris worthy (yet), the Lady Byng should still be in the consideration. The competition will be tough, however, with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar as favorite candidates as well. 

Ironically, the last defenseman to win the Lady Byng before Red Kelly in 1954 was ex-Sabre Brian Campbell in 2011-2012, when he had six penalty minutes total. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Five players who haven’t lived up to early season expectations 

Thanksgiving has generally been the measuring stick for NHL teams on where they stand for their race to the playoffs, but this year may be different due to how close everyone is and how easily a spot can be stolen. However, the holiday is also a good spot to see where the players who make up your team stand. For some, this is a good sign. For many other players though, the time to turn it around is now. 

Jeff Skinner, Carolina

5 goals, 1 assist, -1 rating 

Skinner’s name has been surfaced in trade tumors over the past couple of years and his production has consistently dropped in that time. After an outstanding rookie year with 63 points, Skinner has only hit 50 points once in his three full seasons since. Albeit playing on a lackluster Hurricanes squad, the team still needs more out of their former seventh overall pick. Skinner is 23 and still could be moved before seasons end, and is currently on pace for 18 goals. 

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary

2 goals, 3 assists, -4 rating 

Many people were shocked when Boston traded the 22 year old defenseman to Calgary for a trio of picks this summer, but the transition hasn’t been smooth for Hamilton. An analytical atrocity last season, the Flames looked to shore up that issue in part with this acquisition, but not much has changed. Hamilton has struggled in both ends of the ice, and his offensive output simply hasn’t been on par with the .50 PPG pace he had last season. 

Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia 

0 goals, 3 assists, -11 rating

After a resurgence in his career last season with 32 points, Michael Del Zotto has seemingly fallen back into regression, although he still has 3/4th of the season to make amends. The 20th overall pick in 2008 by the Rangers found his game with Philly last year after a stint in Nashville, but like most other Flyers defensemen he has been unable to keep up in both ends of the rink. The Flyers are dead last in the NHL for goals for and eighth in goals against, and they need contributions from their defense to get out of both of those slumps. 

Michael Raffl, Philadelphia 

1 goal, 2 assists, -3 rating 

After notching 21 goals last year, Raffl has flopped like most other Flyers forwards this year. Currently on pace for four goals on the year, the Austrian native needs to desperately pick his game up. 

Zegmus Girgensons, Buffalo

1 goal, 1 assist, -1 rating

Much like Raffl, Girgensons is only on track for four goals this year. Girgensons had 30 points last year, good enough to get voted into the all-star game by his Latvian countrymen. Not flashy numbers, but good for a defensively minded forward. Girgensons, like Hamilton and Skinner, is young (22 in January) and still has plenty of time to turn it around. 

This stretch at the beginning of the year is not the end all and be all for any of the players on this list or that could have made this list. With such close standings, many of the teams with players here can easily turn it around and make themselves into a contender. Three fourths of the season remain. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Franson Signing Will Likely Cause Dominoe Effect

It’s been a long and patient summer for Cody Franson, but it has finally come to an end. Franson was considered one of the top free agents of the 2015 class, yet to the mystery of many hockey fans across the globe, remained unsigned until today, September 10th. Franson signed a two year deal with the Buffalo Sabres today worth 6.6 million total. The western Canada native had a great start to the year with Toronto, putting up 32 points in 55 games. However, after he was traded to Nashville at the deadline, he only had four points in 23 games, and two in five playoff games.  Read the rest of this entry

Sunday Blog: Franson, PTOs, and Al Arbour 

We’ve reached the dog days of the NHL offseason, which is a perfect time to start a new trend. I’ll try my best to post these Sunday blogs, just to talk, every week along with the regular content spread out accordingly.   Read the rest of this entry

Babcock’s Descision: What it Means for Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, San Jose, and New Jersey

The Mike Babcock sweepstakes is over. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Babcock will become the 30th head coach in Toronto Maple Leafs history, as he inked an eight year deal at 50 million total salary. Babcock was sought after by multiple teams, but in the end, money and organizational power were big determining factors. 
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Oilers Win 2015 Draft Lottery, Buffalo to Pick 2nd 

The Edmonton Oilers will pick 1st overall for the fourth time in six years at the NHL Entry Draft this coming June in Florida. General manager Craig MacTavish gave it “zero chance” that the team trades the pick, meaning that phenom Connor McDavid will more than likely be wearing Edmonton’s blue and orange next season. 

Read the rest of this entry