Joe Finley & Trade Rumors

The Buffalo Sabres have added depth to their system, and are involved in a big trade rumor this morning. This season is in full swing and the Sabres have seemingly pulled out of a nasty slump, but mounting injuries and under-performing forwards have brought about at least one move from the club.

Joe Finley

Joe Finley file photo from

The Sabres welcomed Joe Finley to training camp this past fall, and Washington’s 2005 1st round pick made the cut to the AHL team. With his success in Rochester, coupled with several injuries to the big club’s blue line, the Sabres inked Finley to a 3 year, 2- way deal, reported to be around $1.5 million.

The 2-way contract, of course, would allow Finley to be called up to the NHL if needed and be sent back down without having to pass through waivers. With recent injuries to and call-ups, it’s good for the club to solidify another big, solid defender that can be an option in the majors. TJ Brennan, Braydon McKnabb, and Dennis Persson (last season) have all been serviceable in their stints with the Blue & Gold. Marcus Foligno and Drew Schiestel look very promising as well. In fact, the only Amerk defender that is unlikely for a call-up this year, barring losing a top 6 D for the season, is Shaone Morrisonn. Here’s where I would make a joke about him being underwhelming, but the actual reason is his $2 million cap hit which the big club can’t fit right now.

Finley adds some serious size at 6′ 8″ and 260 lbs. He’s paired with Morrisonn for the former-Caps connection, and he leads the Amerks with 57 penalty minutes as well as a plus-10. Sounds like a good option for a 6th defender against the Boston Bruins if you ask me.

A first round pick for the Caps in 2005, Finley underwent surgery for a ruptured artery in his hand (which makes me cringe every time I think of it) and is looking to rebuild his resume to be taken seriously as an NHL defenseman. In this case I believe he chose the correct method of putting in his work in the AHL, and hopefully earning a call-up and a bigger contract in 3 years.

In other news, the big deal on Twitter this morning is that Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks is being shopped around the Eastern Conference. Broken by @HockeyBreak last night (the same folks that first reported Bruce Boudreau’s firing):

The Ducks’ season is a train wreck as they sit with 16 points through 23 games…good enough for a 1 point lead over the cellar dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets. Anaheim is the second-lowest scoring team in the league with 50 goals, and Bobby Ryan being a top-line player is one of those being called out. And by called out, I mean he’s being rumored to be traded.

The Ducks are obviously looking to move him out of the conference, as all their rumored talks have been with teams in the Northeast. Why is that, you say? Well, moving him frees up over $5 million in cap space, and getting new blood onto the team is always a plus. BUT, this is a guy who has scored more than 30 goals 3 seasons in a row, and who hits everything that moves…if you keep him in your conference, he will burn you. It’s the same reason Ottawa would never trade Spezza to a team in their division. Or why the Sabres should fear Toronto and Tim Connolly (that was sarcasm).

The rumor is that Drew Stafford is involved in trade talks. Ryan’s more of a play maker, while Stafford is a wide-angling “power forward,” so perhaps a style switch on the Ducks’ top line is what they’re looking for. Honestly, the fact that Kulemin and Kostitsyn are rumored to be involved in this trade make me think that there would be more given to acquire him. Seeing as how Buffalo is bolstering its blue line (see how I brought this all back to singing Finley?) I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a defender is involved in this deal.

Stafford + Sekera or Gragnani or Leopold would make a lot of sense. Sekera’s trade value is pretty high because of the length of his contract, while Gragnani and Leopold are more beneficial for Buffalo to move (Grags is up this year and Leopold is up next year). Buffalo has the depth of prospects to replace any of those defenders, and keep in mind the Sabres would need to overpay in a trade for an elite winger like Ryan. It’s not like Darcy Regier to give up so much for a player, but it’s less likely he’ll trade draft picks away. Any way you slice it, this Sabres team currently has a logjam of above-average-but-not-great players. Moving 2 or 3 of them to get a hold of a guy like Bobby Ryan, who is signed through 2014-15 for reference, would be a big step in looking to be taken seriously as a potent offense.

We’ll see where the day goes with this. Half the fun is the speculation, of course.


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