As we draw closer to the NHL draft, there has been abundant speculation regarding potential transactions across the league. One of the more prominent rumors involves the Buffalo Sabres’ pursuit of a left side defenseman.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is one of the more popular names that keeps popping up. Some have suggested that Tim Murray is very interested in adding the 24-year-old blueliner to help bolster a lackluster defensive core. A few rumor mongers have propounded that Murray may be willing to part with the 8th overall selection in order obtain Fowler. The Ducks boast a surplus of talent on the back end and they need to shed some cap room. Fowler is the ideal candidate to not only free up space financially, but a roster spot as well. He is slated to earn $4 million for the next two seasons.
Fowler meets most of the criteria for what the Sabres need on the blueline. He is an extremely smooth skater with puck-moving ability, which makes him an excellent option on the power play. Fowler posted 28 points in 69 games last season for the Ducks, which is near his average output over the past three seasons. Despite his prowess on the attack, he often appears out of position in his own end. The worst of his struggles came late last season en route to an unimpressive showing in the playoffs. Fowler was on the ice for over 43% of the Ducks’ goals against last season, which was the worst percentage on the team. Some analysts blame his struggles on his defensive partner Kevin Bieksa who was by all accounts, the worst defenseman on the Anaheim roster last season.
In a recent press conference, Tim Murray expressed openness to trade his top pick to secure a left shot defenseman.
“If we can trade a couple picks and improve our team, we’ll continue to do that. If somebody offers us a top-end, young, left-shot defenseman and they demand our eighth overall pick and we feel it makes us better, we’ll do the trade.” – GM Tim Murray
Given his recent track record, Murray is certainly not shy about trading high draft picks for NHL ready players. Just last season he traded the 21st overall selection to secure Robin Lehner from Ottawa and the 31st pick in a package deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Sabres from Colorado. Murray also parted with a first round selection in a blockbuster deal with Winnipeg for Evander Kane.
The likelihood of this rumor coming to fruition will all depend on just how much Murray values Fowler. The 8th overall pick is a steep price to pay for a player who has yet to prove himself as a consistent, top pairing defenseman, but history has shown, that Tim Murray always gets his man, even if he tends to overpay at times. Regardless of whether or not this trade takes place, Sabres fans are in for an exciting evening with Murray at the helm. Stay tuned.