Mick Jagger said it best. “You can't always get what you want. You get what you need.”
The Buffalo Sabres wanted to flip one of their seven NHL defensemen in a trade package that included a center to play on the second line behind Jack Eichel in the depth chart.
When no enticing deals presented themselves, Sabres GM Jason Botterill's head space shifted to the here and now on trade deadline day.
Botterill is hellbent on making the playoffs this season and not selling off his assets like many of the squawking heads boldly predicted he would do.
I told you so. Botterill acquired two uniquely skilled assets to fortify his current roster.
Botterill's stated goal is for Eichel & Associates to play "meaningful games" in February, March and April for the first time in years.
The Sabres GM made additions on Monday that he hopes will assist his players in their quest to catch the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Sabres trail the Leafs by just six points in the Atlantic standings after an impressive 7-3-1 record in their last 11 games.
The next final 20 regular season games will be playoff games for the Sabres.
Botterill acquired forwards Wayne Simmonds and Dominik Kahun on Monday. Botterill traded forwards Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to complete his trade deadline day dealings.
Botterill told media after the trade deadline expired on Monday afternoon that he was in "conversations" with NHL general managers prior to the 3:00pm Eastern time deadline.
Those talks seemingly will continue to develop as the Sabres try their damnedest to earn a playoff spot this season. Botterill is known for his trades in July and July and he will be more motivated than ever to pry center Anthony Cirelli out of Tampa or Tomas Hertl away from San Jose.
Suffice to say, Botterill took the conservative approach to roster augmentation at the trade deadline. That’s ok. He subtracted salary and acquired grit, heaviness and skill. Should be a fun western road trip beginning Wednesday night in Denver #Sabres50
Botterill and Ralph Kreuger are happy with the additions of Simmonds and Kahun for the final twenty game drag race of the regular season which begins in Denver on Wednesday night.
"I think we’ve talked a lot about changing our forward group, adding to our forward group. Excited about bringing in a veteran player such as Wayne Simmonds. We’ve talked a lot about this group playing meaningful games. For Wayne, playing meaningful games in the month of March and April is something he’s very accustomed to. I think you’ve heard Ralph (Krueger) talk a lot about net-front presence, playing a physical game. I think these are things that come natural for Wayne. We also know that we have a young group. He has a strong personality and I think his leadership’s going to help our group out a lot. In Dominik (Kahun), excited to bring a younger player into our mix. A player that is very useful, can play both wings, has a very good skill set and also has a track record of success, both over in Germany — had the opportunity to win an Olympic silver medal and had numerous times playing in World Championships. Excited to bring Dominik into our group."
Botterill wasn't going to sell at the trade deadline. Not while his team is knocking at the door of it's first playoff berth is nine years.
"I think we talked a lot about different things that would happen. You’re always trying to prepare months in advance of what you’re going try to accomplish at the trade deadline. We’ve been very or proud of how our group has responded after a difficult start to the home stand. We understand in a young group, you’re going to continue to have disappointments and challenges along the way, but how we responded from that has been very positive. I think that’s just this past weekend with a difficult win in Pittsburgh and then also finding a way to grind out against a very good Winnipeg team. We’ve talked a lot about playing meaningful games in the month of March, and I think with some of the moves that we made today, we’re hopefully setting our team up to better accept that challenge."
You want to play heavy? OK, bud.
Adding Simmonds is a short term move for the Sabres. However, it is a massive addition to the Sabres team that has lacked truculence and heavyweight punching power the past five seasons.
The 31 year old is playing on an expiring contract. Botterill was straight forward when asked about a long term contract extension for Simmonds in Buffalo.
"I talked to Wayne just briefly when he came to the organization. I talked to his agents, just about the situation before, and our understanding is certainly there’s no contract in the mix or anything like that. The focus right now is on sort of what our plan was for the next few weeks here and what our sort of focus was going to be for today. You know our numbers; we certainly have openings at forward moving forward here. We’re certainly going to have opportunities and roster spots available. I think that’s what he’s looking for: He’s looking to play meaningful games and he’s also looking for an opportunity. If he plays well, there might be a future. But our focus right now with Wayne is just what we have going on here right now. Just as Ralph likes to keep things small, we’re able to keep it small with Wayne here.", Botterill said.
Simmonds will no doubt be trying with all his might to impress Botterill, Kreuger and his new teammates in hopes of earning a long term contract with the Sabres. Why else would Simmonds have waived his no trade clause to accept the trade from New Jersey to Buffalo?
One gets the impression from Botterill's comments that he feels like he got the better of the deal with Pittsburgh by adding Kahun's skill and speed to Buffalo's young, dynamic forward group.
"We talked about the situation of adding, trying to talk to different teams about what our value was for some of our players, get draft picks and then maybe moving draft picks in other deals. The way it worked out, we’re glad that we were able to make trades that actually get a National Hockey League player back into the mix here to help our needs, especially the physical element and, like I said, the heaviness of Wayne Simmonds. We’ve talked about it before, the development of our young players, our young forwards within our system, I think Dominik’s a player that has NHL experience but still is a young player that is continuing to grow."