The Sabres sit two points out of a playoff spot and are the closest they’ve been to the playoffs in years. Much has been said that the Sabres most likely do not want to move major assets like their three 1st round picks or any of their top prospects.
At the same token, for the first time in forever, the Sabres are at the doorstep of the postseason. It cannot be understated how important a Sabres playoff appearance would be for the organization and the players. There has been a lot of negative energy surrounding the team since the tank years started in 2013-14, which never has really washed away and a playoff appearance would cleanse.
Young players like Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Dahlin, and Casey Mittelstadt would benefit greatly from playoff experience. Even the ownership, in general, could use a playoff appearance to help justify some of the decisions they made over the years.
Building for the future is one thing, but at what point is the focus going to be on winning NOW? The tank years made sense in the idea of Buffalo wanting a franchise-building type player, which they acquired in Eichel.
The hope was that last year was a playoff year but getting Rasmus Dahlin only added to the Sabres armor chest. Eichel is in his fourth season and he has some help so the team can take that next step. Very rarely do teams transition to becoming champions overnight and you want your younger players to gain as much experience as soon as possible to help with that growth.
There is no guarantee any of their prospects or picks amount to anything; Brendan Guhle has gone from one of their best prospects to a guy who is not even being mentioned.
Adding a top-9 forward who can or would be willing to stay in Buffalo for a few years at the price of a 1st round pick and a strong prospect does not seem like a mistake in any form.
The Sabres should be buyers at the deadline and try to cross that first bridge of making the playoffs. With that said, here are a few players that are expected to be available who can add some depth to the forward crop:
Ryan Dzingel (OTT) – 21 goals, 20 assists
He is a good young forward who would help but he is a free agent so you need to make sure he would sign.
Andre Burakovsky (WSH) – 7 goals, 8 assists
Another young forward who has talent and has done well in previous seasons but fallen out of favor with the coaching in Washington. He is a restricted free agent who needs a new deal but cannot just walk away.
Brayden Schenn (STL) – 10 goals, 23 assists
He has one year left on his deal and has proven to be a productive top 9 forward. Perhaps St. Louis would be willing to take back their first and with a prospect added call it a day?
Jakob Silfverberg (ANA) – 12 goals, 8 assists
He is a consistent 20-goal, 40-point player who would be a perfect fill-in for the Sabres second and third lines. He is a free agent after the season, but Buffalo has been linked to him in the past.