Buffalo Sabres Potential Trade For Goaltender


When the first puck drops next season Buffalo Sabres fans can finally feel comfortable rooting for wins again.  The Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes will be over, Evander Kane will be healthy, Mark Pysyk will be a Sabre and all will be right with our fandom again.  However one question remains unanswered:  who is going to stop the pucks?

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  • Goaltender has been a revolving door since Ryan Miller was traded to the St. Louis Blues.  Since then Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, Anders Lindback and Matt Hackett have all started games.  What was once the most stable and deep position in the franchise now has a pending UFA in Lindback and Chad Johnson, whom was injured in practice and won’t see his first Buffalo Sabres start until next season.  Provided he finishes the last year of his contract in the Blue and Gold.

    There are plenty of prospects led by Hackett but Andrey Makarov, Cal Peterson and Linus Ullmark all need more time to develop.  I’ve been beating the drum for Ullmark in the NHL since watching him in the annual Blue and Gold scrimmage and seeing a smooth goaltender post-to-post and a young man who tracks the puck very well through traffic.  And he’s big (6’3”) and Murray is known to love big goaltenders.  Two or three years down the road I think Ullmark is here competing for the starting job.

    That doesn’t help the team next year.  Already there are murmurs that the Buffalo Sabres could compete for a playoff spot at best next season.  But there is no chance of that without an upgrade in goal.  Murray will have options in free agency, both unrestricted (Antti Niemi) and restricted (Martin Jones) just to name two options.  But neither Niemi nor Jones will be next years starter.  This man is:

    Before you accuse me of ingesting illegal substances consider the fact that my suggestion which hasn’t been reported anywhere – just a thought in my mind – would be far from the only trade Murray would make.  That second first round pick is very likely to be moved, perhaps to Colorado as one of a dozen or so rumors sure to pop up about Ryan O’Reilly. Tim Murray is going to make additional significant changes to the forwards and defencemen on this team.

    Cam Ward will give the stability in net the Buffalo Sabres need to consider themselves having playoff potential.  He has been a workhorse in his career though recently has had injury concerns.  Still his career splits (242-188-58, .910 save percentage, 2.73 GAA) aren’t that far off from Miller during his Buffalo Sabres tenure.  And there is that Stanley Cup ring.  Remember that Sabres fans?

    If the Buffalo Sabres aren’t playoff contenders next season the contract on Cam Ward is flexible.  According to spotrac.com Ward has a cap hit of $6.3 million dollars in the last year of his deal.  If the Sabres are good they can ride him into the playoffs and let him walk after the season in favor of one of the young goaltenders in the system.  If not, Ward can be traded for whatever Murray can get for him.  Goaltenders are always available for a playoff run, particularly one with a Stanley Cup on his résumé.

    On the other side Carolina will be looking to move Ward and not extend him.  Ward is 31 years old and will look for another multi-year deal in the range of Miller in Vancouver.  With the Hurricanes near the bottom of the NHL committing to Ward at that salary doesn’t make sense.  Giving up that contract and getting something in return will help the prospect pool and give salary cap flexibility to attract free agents.

    I proposed draft picks in the trade for ward but a prospect would make sense also.  Not at the level of Mikhail Grigorenko or Jake McCabe but a prospect to help the Carolina blue line.  Chad Ruhwedel is under contract next season and has showed well at the NHL level.  He could be a trade option in acquiring Ward.

    The Buffalo Sabres home opener next season will be filled with energy from fans finally able to cheer for victories.  No more internal conflict.  No more tanking.  And Buffalo Sabres fans will be cheering an opening night starting goaltender that wears the Stanley Cup ring they feel they deserved to celebrate. Make peace with it now while there is time.

    Next: Buffalo Sabres Seeing Back-Up Goaltenders

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