Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sabres fans will be rooting for Jamie McGinn and the Anaheim Ducks

Reprinted with permission from

When Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray sent winger Jamie McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks at the 2016 trade deadline the return was a conditional 2016 3rd round pick. The condition:  Should the Ducks advance to the Western Conference Finals and McGinn play in 50% of the their playoff games in the process that third would turn into a 2017 second-rounder.

The latter part of the equation is pretty much a given as McGinn has been a top-six presence for the Ducks as he's scored eight goals in 21 games since the trade. McGinn's continued presence in front of the net will be needed as they face one of the best goalies in the game--Pekka Rinne--in their opening round series against the Nashville Predators.

Anaheim enters the playoffs after completing a remarkable turnaround that saw them go from last in the league to first in the Pacific Division. Although they started the season 1-7-2, management stuck with head coach Bruce Boudreau and the team finished 46-25-11 and took their fourth consecutive Pacific Division crown. Last year in the playoffs they made it to the conference finals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks in a tough seven-game series.

For the Sabres, a 2017 second-rounder is much more appealing than a 2016 third. As it stands right now, when the team hits the draft in Buffalo this June they will have a total 11 picks (including Anaheim's.) Nine of those picks will be from the third-round down should the conditions of the McGinn trade not be met with four of them in the third round itself (BUF, DAL, STL, ANA.) The following year, however, the Sabres are slated to have "only" nine picks after adding an additional second-rounder (MIN) and third-rounder (WSH) through trades.

McGinn's time in Buffalo was too brief and many would like to see him signed in the off season, but with career-highs in goals (22) and points (39) it's unlikely the 29 year old McGinn will be in the Sabres' price range.


Sabres fans should also keep an eye on NY Islanders right winger Kyle Okposo who's slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

Okposo was a seventh-overall pick of the Islanders in 2006 and has totaled 369 points (139g + 230a) in 528 NHL regular season games and is at the end of a 5yr./$14M contract. Although his cap-hit was $2.8M, his salary went from $1M in 2011-12 to $4.5M this season and after scoring 22 goals and adding 42 assists, he's in line for a pretty good raise.

But the situation in Brooklyn may not be all that stable for him.

Trade rumors involving the St. Paul, MN native date back to last year before the draft and continued at the 2016 trade deadline in February. Luke Fox of wrote at the deadline that " Okposo wants to stay" but "said he would not be knocking on GM Garth Snow’s office to plead his case."

Okposo met with reporters concerning the rumors at the time and stated the following, according to Fox. “I’m playing for the Islanders. Once that [trade deadline] passes, there’ll probably be a lot of questions answered, and whatever happens is going to happen. I hope I’m here, and I hope I’m trying to help this team win a Stanley Cup.

“They’re going to make those decisions at an appropriate time. I never want that to be a distraction among the group. I’m just trying to keep a level head on my shoulders, go out there and play my game.”

He definitely "played his game" last night sniping a feed from linemate John Tavares while assisting on Tavares' goal with a beauty of a cross-crease feed. Okposo's two-point night in the Islanders series opening win garnered him the game's third star. He now has six goals and three assists in 14 playoff games.

One would assume that the Islanders would like to lock up their top right-winger and one would also assume that their probably willing to pay him $5.5-6M on a longer-term contract. But what we don't know is how Okposo truly feels about the lack of a contract extension and the subsequent trade rumors involving him twice because of it.

Plus, what would his thoughts be should the Islanders not make it past the first round of the playoffs again for the second consecutive season?

We'll find out how that quest goes as NY is at Florida tonight for Game-2 of their series.

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