The report from The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that the Buffalo Sabres are making inquiries on Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce is a good indicator that GM Kevyn Adams is looking to trade assets for a blueliner on an already existing contract, rather than paying an inflated price on the free agent market for veterans Matt Dumba, Scott Mayfield, Radko Gudas or Dmitry Orlov.
The reason this may be the case is that next season Buffalo will still have Rasmus Dahlin making $6 million on the final year of a three-year bridge deal and Owen Power on his entry-level contract, whereas both will be making a considerably higher amount in 2024-25. There are other defensemen that fit the profile of what the Sabres may be looking for and if Pesce re-signs with Carolina, they may make a trade for one of these five blueliners as a Plan B option:
The three-time Cup champion is 35 years old but still averaged nearly 20 minutes a night on the Golden Knights successful playoff run. With Vegas in a cap crunch, there has been chatter of buying Martinez out of the final year of his three-year, $15.75 million deal to be able to re-sign forward Ivan Barbashev. The 14-year NHL veteran has an eight-team no-trade list and as a left-handed shot, it would mean Owen Power moving over to his off-side.
— NHL (@NHL) June 14, 2023
The 33-year-old is a shutdown defender entering the final year of his contract with Calgary, and the Flames are in a situation with multiple players entering the final year of their contracts, including center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin. After two seasons of playing every game, Tanev missed 17 games in 2022-23 with upper-body injuries, but he is right-handed and makes in the same neighborhood as Pesce ($4.5 million).
The former Sabres first-round pick and Calder Trophy winner is in the final year of a five-year, $30 million deal with Vancouver, who like Vegas are in a precarious cap situation. With a $6 million cap hit, the Canucks might be willing to retain some salary to make a trade possible since a buyout would not give them much cap relief, but the 33-year-old will not provide the same amount of offense he did as a youngster more than a decade ago.
The Montreal Canadiens were reportedly shopping the 29-year-old blueliner before the deadline, but teams like Tampa were not able to open up the cap space to fit his $3.5 million salary. Edmundson was part of the “Big Four” on the Habs blueline that helped them get to the Cup Final in 2021, and he has the flexibility to play both the left and right side.
Wild sequence that results in a game misconduct for Joel Edmundson and linesman exiting the game with an injury pic.twitter.com/IMgkkeurx0
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 30, 2022
Los Angeles has extended Vladislav Gavrikov and Mikey Anderson in the last few months, and with the chatter that they are looking to add another top-six forward and a goalie, it is possible that they will look to clear some cap space by moving Roy. The 28-year-old will make $3.15 million in the final year of his three-year deal with the Kings and the right-hander is coming off a career-high 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists) last season.