Monday, February 29, 2016

Murray prime NHL trade deadline pump with blockbuster AHL deal

Reprinted with permission from

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray has never seen a multi-player/piece blockbuster he didn't like as he fashions the franchise in his image. In fact his first trade as GM was a five-player/two draft pick trade that featured Buffalo's franchise goalie at the time, Ryan Miller and their captain, Steve Ott. Although one could say that trade with St. Louis wasn't wholly his as his predecessor laid some of the foundation, Murray follow that trade up with three more multi-piece deals at the 2014 trade deadline a week later.

One deal of note was the trade of Rochester Americans defenseman Brayden McNabb and forward Jonathan Parker, to the Los Angeles Kings for a couple of forward prospect up-front in "heavies" Nicolas Deslauriers and Hudson Fasching. Also going back to Los Angeles were the two second-round picks Buffalo received from the Kings in the Robyn Regehr trade in April, 2013.

It's become an annual tradition for Murray to pull off a multi-piece, blockbuster trade as last season prior to the trade deadline he and his Winnipeg counterpart, Kevin Cheveldayoff made an eight-piece trade featuring Evander Kane and Tyler Myers. And this year, Murray got together with his uncle Bryan Murray to put together a seven-player trade with the Ottawa Senators.

It's not the first time the Murrays got together. At last year's draft as the Sabres sent a first round pick (21st-overall) to the Senators for goalie Robin Lehner and veteran forward David Legwand.

In yesterday's trade, Tim Murray sent forwards Jason Akeson (free agent, 2015) and Phil Varone (FA, 2012) and defenseman Jerome Leduc (2010, 68th overall,) all restricted free agents, to the Ottawa Senators for RFA's Eric O'Dell (2008, 39th, ANA,) Williamsville, NY native Cole Schneider (FA, 2012,) Alex Guptill (2010, 77th, DAL) and Michael Sdao (2009, 191st.)

Of those seven players, only Varone, Akeson and O'Dell have seen NHL action but they all, along with Scheider, lead their AHL teams in scoring. Before the trade Varone 32 points (13g + 19a) and Akeson (8+22) lead the Amerks while Schneider (17+25) and O'Dell (18+19) lead the Binghamton Senators.

Perhaps Murray was interested in adding a little more size to the Amerks lineup in this trade of points-leaders. Akeson and Varone are both 5'10" weighing in at 190 lbs. and 186 lbs., respectively, while Scheinder is 6'1" 199 lbs. and O'Dell is 6'0" 195 lbs.

Leduc, in the system since the Sabres drafted him, had a really trying season last year before finishing strong before faltering this year. Before leaving for Binghamton Leduc found himself on the third-pairing with Matt Donovan and was a team-worst minus-20.

All three Amerks players were involved in a 10-5 loss to the Toronto Marlies last night before the trade was announced. Varone had a goal and two assists, Akeson was without a point and was a minus-3 while Leduc was also without a point and was a minus-1.


The Sabres meanwhile, were finishing up a West Coast road trip in Los Angeles and were busy getting shut out for the second time in three games, 2-0.

As far as we know every roster player boarded the plane back to Buffalo and will have the next two days off before their March 1 date with the last-place Edmonton Oilers.

The trip was particularly tough as the game last night was the second game of a back-to-back that had them travelling from San Jose back down to Los Angeles. Normally the schedule maker will have a team play Anaheim and Los Angeles together but for some reason a discombobulated Eastern Time Zone team had that extra travel. If you believe WGR's Paul Hamilton, the NHL was making it a little more difficult in response to Buffalo's drive to the bottom of the league last season. Hamilton also noted that on another western swing, the team travelled to Edmonton, then to the coast to Vancouver and back to Calgary, which is a bit out of the norm as Edmonton and Calgary are close to each other.

Regardless, the Sabres had trouble because they couldn't finish and went 0/7 on the powerplay in their shutout losses. The latter of which we'll get to when we come out with the team stats for February.

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