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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on Tuesday’s trade between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.
I really like this deal for the Sabres.
Eric Staal’s best days may be behind but he is still a very effective player. The 35-year-old averaged ~23 goals and 55 points per 82 games over the last two seasons despite playing for a low scoring, defense-first team in Minnesota. That production was not simply the byproduct of opportunity. Staal was efficient, producing 5v5 points at the rate of a quality 2nd line player.
He’s a plus-passer, he can still finish plays off, he can help in transition, and he is responsible at both ends of the ice. Realistically speaking, I’m not sure the Sabres could have found a better option to play 2C behind Jack Eichel. I get that he’s not a long-term solution but neither was Marcus Johansson, whose play has really fallen off in recent years.
I think the Sabres acquired the better player and plugged a hole they desperately needed to fill, all while clearing some money off the books in the process.
Kevyn Adams’ first big move as GM of the Sabres was a good one.
This is a bizarre move by the Wild.
Minnesota is not a deep team at centre to begin with and they effectively just traded their best centre in exchange for a player who technically can play centre but has been proven to be a much more effective winger in Marcus Johansson.
I wrote myself a few days ago about how the Sabres might want to move Johansson to escape his 4.5 million dollar cap but I never thought they would be able to do such by acquiring a 3.25 million dollar player who is a far better option in return.
Both players only have one year left on their deals but I don't see any way this trade can be looked at except as an absolute win for the Sabres. Johansson is an unremarkable complimentary player while despite his age, Staal still has shown to be a strong top six option. No clue what the Wild are doing here.
Your guess as to what the Minnesota Wild are trying to do here is as good as mine. This is a team caught in hockey's version of no man's land: Not good enough to compete, but not bad enough to land elite prospects in the draft. Unfortunately, this trade does nothing to move the needle for them in either direction. The Wild took a downgrade in on-ice value by dealing Staal for Johansson, all while adding more cost under their cap. It's a bad deal for them from both angles.
The Sabres win this one simply by virtue of saving cost and getting a small lineup upgrade.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com
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