I should start off by saying that this is the worst kind of
trade column: the speculative kind. Looking at the rosters of the Buffalo
Sabres and Edmonton Oilers, though, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some
kind of trade fit between the two teams.
Let’s start by looking at the collection of defencemen each
of the two teams currently employs, split by left and right side.
- Left: Josh Gorges, Jake McCabe
- Right: Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Cody Franson, Mark
Pysyk, Casey Nelson
Gorges was the team’s top left-shot defenceman last season,
and he’s not a legitimate top-pair player. McCabe is a keeper, but last year
was his rookie season. The Sabres are in a similar position to the Oilers in
terms of their window to win, so this is a team that would seem to have an
obvious need for both immediate help and young players who can grow with the
On the right side, the team is loaded. I imagine the plan is
to run Ristolainen-Bogosian as the 1-2 punch on the right side for years to
come, though I wonder about the availability of Bogosian. I firmly believe that he’s a player with a reputation that exceeds his on-ice results, but he
does have a history of logging major minutes, he’s big and young, and he can
both skate and shoot the puck. I’ve been surprised that more of the trade
chatter this summer hasn’t mentioned him as a possibility.
After that duo, there’s all kinds of interesting names,
though. Franson is big, still reasonably young and importantly has a big shot;
he’d be a very interesting power play option for the Oilers and his underlying
numbers have always been good. Pysyk is a good Alberta boy, but more
importantly he’s a promising young right-shot defenceman with a varied
skillset. Nelson is 6’2”, 23 years old, and put up four points in seven NHL
games after his college career ended last season.
- Left: Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Brandon Davidson, Darnell
Nurse, Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Oesterle
- Right: Mark Fayne, Adam Clendening
It’s not hard to see a potential fit there. The name that
practically leaps off the chart is that of Reinhart, an NHL-ready left-shot
defenceman who is young enough to grow with a rebuilding team. Add in that his
brother Sam is a Sabre and it’s easy to imagine Buffalo being interested. That’s not the only possibility, of course; it’s really
easy to look at these rosters and imagine a scenario where these two teams
could help each other out.
Then there’s the possibility of draft picks.
The Sabres own the No. 8 pick in this summer’s draft.
Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli has made it clear that he would
consider deals in which the Oilers moved down at the draft, and No. 8 falls
into the No. 4-9 range that Chiarelli has described as being the draft’s second
tier. Buffalo just happens to be hosting the draft this year, and Matthew
Tkachuk has previously
been suggested as the perfect linemate for fellow American Jack Eichel.
All of this makes Buffalo a logical partner for Edmonton.
Maybe there’s no fit that the two teams can agree on, but there aren’t many
teams in the NHL that have both a glut of right-shot defenders and a top-10
draft pick to play with in trade. It would be a major shock if the Oilers hadn’t
at least sounded out the Sabres about the possibility of making a deal.