It is the day after the NHL trade deadline, and the Buffalo Sabres (18-35-8) are ready to get back to action. Thursday night the Sabres are in Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning (34-23-5).
Sabres general manager Tim Murray went into the trade deadline having many players that he could move to improve the roster.
Murray and the Sabres went to work Wednesday making moves to help the Sabres progress in their rebuild. Forwards Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick were traded to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Torrey Mitchell and two second-round picks. The Sabres also dealt goaltender Jaroslav Halak to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Michal Nuevirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla.
“I had no expectations. I knew we had some guys that we could possibly move,” Murray said. “Which direction we were gonna go I wasn’t quite sure. You do a lot of listening, discuss each proposal, and make what you hope is the right decision.”
Murray also made a minor league deal which saw defenseman Brayden McNabb and draft picks head to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for college forward Hudson Fasching and forward Nicholas Deslauriers. Fasching has 27 points in 31 games played with the Minnesota Golden Gophers this year, and Deslauriers has 39 points in 60 games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
The Sabres also acquired former Canisius College graduate Cory Conacher off of waivers from the Ottawa Senators. Conacher has struggled with the Senators scoring 20 points in 60 games, but Murray has faith in Conacher’s abilities on the ice.
“He’s a competitive guy, he can skate. There’s lots of things I like about him on the ice,” Murray said. “He’s a good complementary player, and if we had better players here to surround him he’d be a better complementary player. … His work ethic is terrific, and he’s character. I want competition.”
The Sabres last played Monday night in Dallas where they fell short to the Stars 3-2.
Tyler Ennis scored both goals for the Sabres, and now has nine points in his last eight games. Since the New Year, Ennis has posted eight goals and nine assists after a slow first half of the year.
The Lightning made one of the biggest trades on Wednesday by trading their captain Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers. The Lightning are getting back forward Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick in 2015, and a conditional second-round pick in 2014. Callahan is expected to make his debut with the Lightning on Thursday.
The Lightning are coming off of a 4-2 loss in St. Louis on Tuesday as Ryan Miller made his home debut for the Blues. The Lightning have been in a slump lately losing seven of their last 10 games since the end of January. However, Steven Stamkos is expected to return for the Lightning tonight after being out since November with his broken leg.
The Sabres are healthy, but the newly acquired Conacher will not play on Thursday. Conacher may be inserted into the lineup on Friday against the Florida Panthers. Torrey Mitchell will make his debut with the Sabres.
The Lightning may be without defenseman Radko Gudas, who is recovering from a leg injury. Brian Lee and Mattias Ohlund have both missed the entire season, and neither are expected to return for the Lightning.
Jhonas Enroth is expected to start for the Sabres, while Ben Bishop will be in net for the Lightning.
Opening face-off is scheduled for 7:30pm at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The game can be seen on MSG Network and heard on WGR 550 AM.