Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-22-2017
The Buffalo Sabres came away from the expansion draft relatively unscathed last night. The Las Vegas Golden Knights stayed away from projected target, goalie Linus Ullmark, and instead plucked 22 yr. old winger William Carrier from Buffalo's roster. Unlike other teams who had more to lose to Vegas, the Sabres only needed to add in a sixth-round pick to get the deal done.
Las Vegas came away with two extra first round picks in this weekend's draft courtesy the Columbus Blue Jackets and NY Islanders plus landed some pretty good players in Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT,) James Neal (NSH,) Jonathan Machesault and Brendan Smith (FLA,) plus veteran d-men Marc Methot (OTT) and Alexie Emelin (MTL) as well as prospects/young players in Calvin Pickard (COL,) Brendan Leipsic (TOR,) Shea Theodore (ANA) and Oscar Lindberg (NYR) among others.
The Sabres weren't on the hook for anything major although Carrier's north/south speed and corner work was very enticing. It took him a while to get rolling in Rochester scoring 23 goals and adding 33 assists in 127 games for the Amerks over three seasons while adding eight points (5+3) in 41 games for the Sabres.
It would have been ideal for the Sabres to unload an undesirable contract on Vegas GM George McPhee but by the looks of it, the price may have been too steep for his Buffalo counterpart, first-year GM Jason Botterill. With that not being feasible, Botterill instead focused upon keeping his slim goaltending depth intact. Right now the Sabres have starter Robin Lehner in net and it looks as if Ullmark will be backing him up in Buffalo this year. The Sabres signed Jonas Johansson to his entry-level deal and if things go as planned, he'll get thrown into the fire as Rochester's No. 1. After that, there's Jason Kasdorf, who was a part of the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane trade three years ago. He'll likely be in net for the Cincinnati Cyclones, Buffalo's new ECHL affiliate.
After that, nothing. Unless Cal Petersen decides he wants to play in Buffalo. The 2013 fifth round pick has opted to leave Notre Dame early and the Sabres retain his rights until the end of this month. Afterwards he becomes a free agent and as it stands now, it's unlikely Petersen signs with Buffalo.
That said, sending Carrier and a sixth-round pick to Vegas to keep what shreds of a goaltending pipeline the have in tact is a small price to pay.
Las Vegas is already moving some of it's bounty from last night. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, whom the Knights drafted from Chicago, was shipped to Carolina along with a seventh round pick for a second rounder. The Knights also traded defenseman Dave Schlemko (SJS) to the Montreal Canadiens for a 2019 fifth round pick.
McPhee loaded up on defenseman at the expansion draft in order to work deals. The d-men that remain are:
Lucas Sbisa (VAN)
John Merrill (NJD)
Brayden McNabb (LAK)
Jason Garrison (TBL)
Deryk Engelland (CGY)
Collin Miller (BOS)
Marc Methot (OTT)
Griffin Reinhart (EDM)
Alexei Emelin (MTL)
Clayton Stoner (ANA)
Nate Schmidt (WAS)
The quantity is there but the quality isn't which means anyone looking for one of their better players will need to ante up.
There are a few d-men on that list that might be of interest to Buffalo. Methot played alongside 2017 Norris Trophy finalist Erik Karlsson who called Methot his rock and Emelin was a pain in the ass for Buffalo whenever they played against the Canadiens. Probably the most intriguing is Schmidt who looked great in a limited role in the playoffs for the Capitals. He's a mobile puck-mover that looks to be a mid-lower pairing d-man.
Other than that, if you're a Sabres fan looking for an impact defenseman headed to Buffalo in a trade, names like the Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella are still out there.
Presently there's word that the 'Canes, who are flush with defensive talent, may be looking to move one of them for a top-six forward. Although the name Evander Kane might be the first out of a Sabres fan's mouth, methinks a player like Sam Reinhart might be of more interest to Carolina.
Just a thought.