Bulldog is not expecting much to happen with the Sabres at the NHL Trade Deadline

February 22, 2018 - 9:38 am

Photo: Winslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports


Or maybe this should just read deal. Singular and no exclamation point needed. If I were more computer savvy, maybe I could put the word deal into some kind of a font that would imply I’m whispering.

Is there a font that implies whispering? I’m willing to learn.

Whispering feels like it might be called for. Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill managed to get word out about what he was seeking for Evander Kane in a trade months ago. A first round pick, a prospect, a roster player and a conditional pick was thought to be the price. It was reported at the time that Botterill was using a pair of trades from last year as his baseline on an asking price for Kane. The Kevin Shattenkirk trade from St. Louis to Washington, and the Martin Hanzal trade from Arizona to Minnesota.

Almost immediately, there were reports that teams were not willing to meet that price, but also balking at including a first round pick at all.

Whatever Botterill manages to get in return for Kane, and I’ve been bracing for a letdown, this much will be true. It may not be the only trade the Sabres make, but it’s the one you’ve been hoping would provide significant return.

Josh Gorges may go. So too could Benoit Pouliot or Justin Falk. But come on. The chances of those trades playing a significant role in the Sabres' eventual turnaround are slim. Sure, you maybe can spin Robin Lehner into a pick and maybe draft a guy that turns out to be helpful, but wow how old are we by then?

So what’s going on? What happened to the trade deadline? Where are the days of wonder when Paul Gaustad could net you a first round pick?

As Mike Schopp has been pointing out the past couple of weeks, it’s possible, maybe even likely, that buyers at the deadline have realized that the impact of rental players on their teams isn’t significant enough to warrant the spending of multiple valuable assets. Building with draft picks and maintaining a pipeline of quality young players is valued over going for it in any one year and sending the proverbial positive message to the dressing room.

The signs of this have been there for years. I remember being surprised when Thomas Vanek was dealt from the Islanders to Montreal in 2014 at the deadline. Vanek had 21 goals at the time of the trade and only fetched a second round pick in return. Sure, Vanek is not a perfect comparable to Kane but he was a proven goal scorer and the return was minimal.

I’m not telling you to brace for only a second round pick for Kane, but the idea of three to four pieces coming back as return on a Kane trade seems like a pipe dream four days out from the deadline. Hope of a high pick or a blue-chip prospect seems to be dwindling as well. TSN’s Darren Dreger said offers currently seem to be more focused on roster players than futures.

Yikes. How likely is it that a team acquiring Kane for a playoff run or push is going to give up a roster player that is of much promise? I’d say it’s not inconceivable but isn’t likely.

Maybe it’s fitting that in a season that has been such a disaster for the trade deadline to be yet another disappointment. Hopefully I’ll be wrong and Jason Botterill will be the story of the deadline for the return he nets on Kane.

I’m bracing for a letdown and a spring spent hoping for the lottery balls to fall our way.

Good times.

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