Published by hockeybuzz.com, 5-27-2017
Everyone in hockey knows the Buffalo Sabres are in need of defensemen. Even though they'll have at least one, and maybe two additions to the defense-corps, there's still that spot on the top-pairing next to Rasmus Ristolainen that remains a question mark.
Over the past two seasons we found veteran Josh Gorges being overextended in that slot and youngin Jake McCabe was stretched to the extremes of his talents as the Sabres' No. 2 defenseman. Gorges did a respectable job there during the 2015-16 season and so did McCabe last season. But neither were in a position to make the most of what they had to offer. McCabe may end up being in that top spot but he's much better suited to a second-pairing role while age is creeping up on Gorges and it looks as if he'd be best suited to a bottom-pairing/penalty kill role in Buffalo.
Victor Antipin is the new kid on the block for the Sabres defense. The former KHL d-man looks as if he has top-four potential but we won't know how his game transfers over to the NHL. Soon to be 20-yr. old Brendan Guhle has shown that he can play at the pro level but there's a big difference between spot starts and full-time duty. Both players, however, are not expected to be a top-pairing defenseman at this point in time. Which means that if nothing changes, McCabe will probably be slated for No. 2 duty.
Yesterday we looked at one possible expansion draft casualty that the Sabres could trade for in Minnesota's Jonas Brodin. The Wild have a bit of a problem on their hands as a number of no-movement contracts are hampering their protected list. Brodin is a bit down the depth-chart but every bit a top-four d-man with top-pairing potential. If the Wild can't make a deal to maneuver out of this jam, one of Brodin or Marco Scandella might get picked by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.
Come to find out yesterday that another team may have a bit of a problem when it comes to the expansion draft--the Ottawa Senators.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes that the Senators will be facing some tough decisions with their protected list which might leave Methot exposed. "[Sens GM Pierre] Dorion has to put together a protected list and there are decisions to make. On defence, the expectation is they’ll choose to protect three blueliners. The popular opinion is the Senators will have a difficult time putting Marc Methot on that list."
Garrioch goes on to say that the Sens could ask defenseman Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-trade clause and make a side deal with Vegas not to take him.
The 6'3" 224 lb., left-handed Methot logged some big minutes for Ottawa in this year's playoffs pulling in the second-most 5-on-5 time on ice/game behind only Eric Karlsson. The staunch defensive, defenseman was also third on the team in PK average time on ice. Methot is known for his strong defensive presence and solid play with very few breakdowns.
That would seem like a pretty good match for Buffalo as Ristolainen is a righty who has offense on his mind but has been focused on the defensive side of things the past two seasons. It's not to say that he can't play defense, it's more like he has a lot more to give from an offensive perspective and setting him loose might help get the offense reach a another level.
Too bad GM Tim Murray isn't around. Murray was in the organization and seemingly made a 2015 Draft-Day trade that had "future considerations" written all over it.
Back in June, 2015 Murray traded the 21st overall pick to his former team, the Ottawa Senators, for goalie Robin Lehner and aging center David Legwand. It was a rather steep price to pay but in doing so with his uncle Bryan, it's possible that a trade like that with the elder Murray was to set up something down the road. Unfortunately both Murray's are no longer GM's so anything worked out between the clubs would stand on its own.
With the expansion draft protected lists due less than a month from now, there will be plenty of speculation as to who will or will not be protected and whether or not there are deals to be made. Most are calling for the time between the end of the season and the end of the NHL Draft to be the busiest time in NHL history for trades. I'm not sure if I'd go that far yet and as a Sabres fan all I care about is being able to do one trade--for a No. 3-2 d-man.
Get that done and we could go into the season with greater expectations.