Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tim Murray makes one move during a weak trade deadline, eyes the off season

Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com

The Buffalo Sabres head into tonight's matchup with the Edmonton Oilers minus two players who were with the club when the season began--D, Mike Weber and F, Jamie McGinn. Sabres GM Tim Murray started out yesterday's post-trade deadline press conference by thanking both for their services in Buffalo.

"First I'd really like to thank Mike [Weber] and Jamie [McGinn] for their contributions here," said Murray to the gathered press. "Obviously Mike [was here in Buffalo] a long time, [was] a very good Sabre on and off the ice. Very good to me [during] my time here even down the stretch when he knew that he could be leaving town.

"I just spoke to Jamie and he was very gracious too. I want to thank both of those guys. They're character guys that more often than not you're looking for versus trading away but that's the position we're in."

The Sabres were sellers at yesterday's trade deadline as were many other teams. The hyped-up affair was mostly uneventful up until the last hour or so as the few trades that did trickle through featured a mix of non-descript players and mid-level, unrestricted free-agent role players. The first trade featured Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sergei Plotkinov headed to the Arizona Coyotes at 9:47 A.M. and the next trade didn't come over the wire until 1:21 P.M, but at least it involved a player that most of the hockey world recognized--Arizona's Mikkel Boedker.

Things picked up a bit from there and in a strange twist, the last trade was confirmed over three hours past the 3 P.M. deadline. At 6:06 P.M., according to USA Today, Minnesota sent goalie Niklas Backstrom to the Calgary Flames.

For Sabres fans yesterday fizzled as Buffalo's only trade of the day was announced at 3:55 P.M. The Sabres sent forward Jamie McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional 2016 3rd round draft pick. That pick, which came from the Florida Panthers, according to General Fanager, can turn into Anaheim's 2nd round pick in 2017 if the Ducks make it to the West finals and McGinn plays in at least 50% of those playoff games.

It was widely speculated that McGinn would be on the move. The 27 yr. old forward who came to Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly trade with the Colorado Avalanche last draft day is in the final year of his contract and although the two sides had talked contact extension, it was fairly clear the he and his agent were angling towards a larger payday via free agency this summer.

"It didn't get close," said Murray of the McGinn contract negotiations, "and I understand why. There's a difference between a guy signing now and a guy signing on July 1st (the start of free agency.) All the comparables they have and we have today go out the door on July 1st. There could be a big payday out there for them and I get that. He deserves it."

McGinn heads to the Anaheim Ducks, a team that's been smokin' hot for the past two months. After beginning the season bouncing along near the bottom of the league they caught fire. The Ducks have gone 19-4-1 since a shootout loss to Vancouver to start the calendar year and are on an eight-game winning streak. That run places them two points behind the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings having played one more game.

The Ducks were said to be interested in one of three players to bolster their lineup for the playoffs--McGinn, Boedker and Boston forward Loui Eriksson--and according to the LA Daily News, the price for McGinn was "more reasonable." The Boedker trade netted veteran forward Alex Tanguay, injured prospect Connor Bleakley and prospect Kyle Wood for Arizona, which is a pretty sizeable haul compared to the conditional third-rounder given up for McGinn. The Boston Bruins did not trade Eriksson, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Weber was traded last week to the Washington Capitals while the Sabres were in Anaheim on a West Coast swing. The Capital are riding roughshod over the Eastern Conference and the league as their 94 points are 11 better than the league's second-best team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Caps are loaded for bear with a defense that's pretty much set, but head coach Barry Trotz likes the idea of having depth on defense for the playoffs as last season Washington went through grueling back-to-back seven-game series' against the NY Islanders and NY Rangers. "Hopefully, we can go deep," he told the Washington media when discussing the trade for Weber. "Trust me, when you get into that other season, you can go as many as 28, and those 28 can feel like 82. They take a big piece of you, so yeah, there’s no guarantees on what’s going to happen.

"All I know is that we’re deeper on defense because we made the deal [for Weber]."

The Sabres ae left with three UFA's on the roster as none of G, Chad Johnson, F, David Legwand or D, Carlo Colaiacovo were traded yesterday. It was a deadline-day bereft of big names with many sellers peddling similar players and very few teams needing what the many teams were offering. It made for a slow day, up until the final hour or so, in a changing"rental market."

"Under a cap system you see teams wrapping up their core players when they have a chance to and that leaves fewer and fewer rentals," he said yesterday. "I think teams are getting more specific in what they need as a rental versus 'Let's just go out and get the best player available and he doesn't really fit our team.'

"You can talk about analytics, you can talk about video, you can talk about a lot of things that allow teams to be more specific in their needs so this is what you have."

The Sabres head into the final stretch of the season 25th in the league with 19 games to play and although Murray couldn't work any magic at the deadline, the future's on as he expects more action after the season's over.

Because of the salary cap and the affect of the Canadian dollar on that cap, he believes that "teams that loaded up this year are gonna have to move good players, and I think that we'll be one of those teams that will be a buyer.

"I'd like to think that we'd be a destination (for free agents) despite our standing the last couple of years, and we have a ton of [draft] picks. A ton of picks that don't have to be used on draft day [drafting players]. We have a lot of options going forward in the next two drafts."

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