One Buffalo, two trades

What to make of the deals made by the Sabres and Bills

Howard Simon
August 06, 2018 - 4:02 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill stopped by Buffalo Bills training camp last week at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. Perhaps the two men decided to bet on who could make a trade first. Botterill won when he acquired forward Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. Beane didn't want to be left out though so he dealt for wide receiver Corey Coleman from the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

There are some similarities in the two trades since both have an element of "What have you got to lose?". Both deals addressed a position of need for the respective teams and neither deal cost much.

The major difference is body of work / expectations. Skinner is a proven goal scorer with 204 goals over his eight-year NHL career. He fills a number of needs, including the need for a scoring left winger, a speedy forward and someone who can score at even strength. Skinner is tied for seventh in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals over the last three seasons. I think he'd look very nice on the top line with Jack Eichel, and I'll bet that possible pairing was one of the reasons why Skinner waived his no trade clause to come to Buffalo.

You might say it's a bit of a gamble for Botterill since Skinner has just one year left on his contract and will then be an unrestricted free agent. However, the price was not prohibitive, even if Skinner is one and done in Buffalo. Cliff Pu has had a couple of productive seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, but wasn't considered a can't-miss prospect. The Sabres parted with three draft picks as well, but Botterill hung on to all three of his first round picks in next year's draft.

Skinner makes the Sabres better right now. If Botterill thinks he can't get Skinner signed to a long-term deal or doesn't want to sign him long-term, then Skinner goes on the market as a rental player at the deadline and you can get some picks back.

Coleman is also a "What have you got to lose?" acquisition, but while Skinner is expected to produce, Coleman is more of a crap shoot. There's talent and ability, which is why he was the 15th overall pick by Cleveland in the 2016 draft. However, Coleman has had two injury-shortened seasons, has had issues with dropped passes, and questions about his work ethic / dedication, which is why the Browns traded him for almost nothing. All Beane had to give up was a seventh round pick and it isn't even in next year's draft. It's a pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Bills desperately need help at receiver, and a deep threat receiver at that. Coleman ran a 4.39 at the NFL Combine, although hamstring issues have been a contributing factor in his lack of consistent big plays.

The reports on Coleman coming out of Cleveland are not good, but all it cost the Bills was a seventh round pick and Coleman is under contract for two more years with very affordable base salaries of $1.5 and $2 million. 

It's absolutely worth a shot by Beane and company.

Marquise Goodwin was always injured and not productive enough with the Bills, but he played all 16 games for San Francisco last season and is now a big part of the San Francisco 49ers offense. If Coleman pans out, he could be the No. 2 receiver behind Kelvin Benjamin.

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