The trade deadline is upon us. Time for some thoughts and speculation as to what the Buffalo Sabres might do today.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier already has begun making moves. It's unusual for him. Normally he's the type of GM that waits until today, even late into the day, to make his moves.
But, this past Saturday he traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to St. Louis for a 2013 second-rounder and a conditional 5th (could be a 4th if the Blues advance one round in the playoffs.)
On Monday Regier traded defenseman Robyn Regehr to the LA Kings for second-rounders in 2014 and 2015.
I can't help but think that sub-consciously, Regier's on some kind of karmic mission to come full-circle. He traded away second-round picks three consecutive years: Dominic Moore, 2009; Raffi Torres, 2010; Brad Boyes, 2011.
Of note, Leopold and Regehr joined the previously traded TJ Brennan (FLA, 5th round pick) as three of the Sabres top-eight d-men have already been traded. And there's one more that has the potential as well.
Defenseman Adam Pardy, like Leopold and Regehr, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and he might be on the block as well.
Considering that veteran defensemen are a hot commodity at this time of year, it wouldn't be surprising if he's the fourth of Buffalo's original top-eight defenseman to be moved.
And it wouldn't be too surprising if the stay-at-home, mid-bottom pairing d-man fetches a second rounder as well.
The Sabres also have two more pending UFA's in forwards Jochen Hecht and John Scott.
Regier may convince a contender looking for depth that Hecht has value. If he could get anything higher than a 7th-rounder in 2022 it would be a semi-miracle.
As for Scott, he's an enforcer whom I happen to like and hope the Sabres re-sign. Not sure there's a market for him.
Then there's the Sabres "Big-3": Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
All carry pretty hefty cap-hits, all are considered to be upper-level players and all will be UFA's at the end of next season. But two of them, Miller and Pominville, have limited no-trade clauses where they name eight teams they do not wish to be traded to.
Breaking it down, the most likely to be moved is Pominville.
A solid top-six winger who plays in all situations, Pominville is known for his consistency and smart play.
He's been in a slump lately and for this writer, it could be the beginning of his plateauing (maybe even decline.)
Any number of teams in the playoff hunt, in a playoff spot or with Cup-aspirations could use a player like him.
Andrew Peters mentioned the New Jersey Devils as a perfect fit. I concur.
The market for goalies is thin, but it's being said that there are at least three on the market: Roberto Louongo (VAN,) Mikka Kiprusoff (CGY) and Miller.
In regards to Miller, two teams that would most definitely be in the market are Toronto and Winnipeg. Methinks, though, that both of those teams would be on Miller's no-trade list.
The best fit for Miller, as I've mentioned a couple of times already, would be St. Louis. Their goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have come back to earth. They have a young up and coming goalie in Jake Allen who has mad potetntial.
Having Allen behind Miller for the next season and change would be a solid tandem that could carry a well-rounded, solid defensive team deep into the playoffs.
It might not happen today, but could happen at the draft.
As for Vanek.
He does not have a NTC and there would be a number of teams interested in his services. Because of that teams like Columbus, Winnipeg and Edmonton could all be destinations with a strong return coming back.
Of all the "Big-3," Regier has the most flexibility with Vanek and it would make him the most tradeable.
But Vanek is the only true top-line player on the team. They might wait until next year's deadline to see where the team is and find out what Vanek's thinking.
Another Sabres player that's getting a lot of attention is power forward Drew Stafford.
Stafford is having a very poor year, but is young, big and has scored 30+ goals in a year.
It's been reported that a number of teams are interested in Staff this morning and if the price is right, he'll be gone.
Columbus, who has three first-rounders at the draft this year, would make the most sense. They've already said that the LA first-rounder is in play. Is Stafford worth a first round pick?
Was Paul Gaustad last season?
Because everyone's into predictions here's mine for the Sabres:
--Adam Pardy to any number of teams for a 2013 second round pick
--Jochen Hecht: goin' nowhere
--John Scott: goin' nowhere
--Jason Pominville and a mid-low level prospect (Luke Adam?) to New Jersey for a first-rounder, a future second and a fourth or fifth.
--Ryan Miller to St. Louis, either today or at the draft, for Jaroslav Halak, a prospect and a future first-rounder.
--Thomas Vanek: goin' nowhere
--Drew Stafford and a lower pick (maybe even Hecht?) to Columbus for LA's 2013 first-rounder