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Who Will the Sabres Trade Next?



Buffalo Sabres trade options

The Buffalo Sabres made a blockbuster move yesterday, acquiring former fourth-overall draft pick Bowen Byram in exchange for Casey Mittelstadt. The move signified that General Manager Kevyn Adams was not content waiting and seeing if the team’s core could improve next season. Instead, there’s a clear reshaping of Buffalo’s roster in the works, beginning with Friday’s trade deadline.

With the team’s other core pieces locked into long-term deals, another major shakeup isn’t likely in-season. That said, there’s a slew of pending unrestricted free agents and other potential trade chips on the Sabres’ roster. Let’s break down which Sabres players could have a new home shortly.

Must Read: Sabres Trade Casey Mittelstadt; Acquire Bowen Byram

Erik Johnson

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Erik Johnson will be traded by the March 9th deadline. Johnson has been held out of the last four games due to a mysterious illness. In trade deadline terms, he might have “trade fever”.

Johnson was brought aboard to be a veteran presence on a team with playoff aspirations. Clearly, that hasn’t worked out. With right-handed defensemen at a demand premium, there are likely many suitors for the former Stanley Cup-winning defenseman.

In terms of a return, stay-at-home defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin fetched a third-round draft pick for the Anaheim Ducks on March 1st. Johnson’s cap hit is much higher, but if Buffalo retains salary a mid-round draft pick or prospect is not out of the question.

Kyle Okposo

The Sabres’ captain admitted to looking around KeyBank Center a bit after the game versus the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday wondering if it could be his last home game in Buffalo. Kyle Okposo is looked up to in the locker room, but his contract status has his situation up in the air.

If Okposo goes anywhere, it ultimately will be his decision. The 35-year-old winger has earned the respect to approve any trade Adams presents. Plenty of teams could use his well-rounded albeit fading game to help improve depth at forward and potentially round out a bottom-six.

A mid-to-late rounder is the likely return for Okposo.

Zemgus Girgensons

See: Kyle Okposo. Zemgus Girgensons is the longest-tenured Sabre and a consummate professional. There is likely a lot of interest in a strong, defensively responsible forward around the league, as playoff contenders are looking for that extra push. Girgensons certainly provides that, although the return would likely mirror that of Okposo.

Teams looking to acquire Girgensons will have the option to re-sign the forward to a value short-term deal in the offseason, with a few solid playing years still ahead of him.

Victor Olofsson

Victor Olofsson could also fetch a mid-to-late-round pick for the Sabres for different reasons. Olofsson scored in Toronto on Wednesday, showcasing his elite shot. It hasn’t worked out in Buffalo this season, but Olofsson can offer an instant scoring threat at both even strength and on the powerplay.

With the right linemates, Olofsson could be an underrated addition to boost a defensively-responsible team. With how tight playoff games are, one powerplay tally could be the difference between a team advancing in the postseason.

Must Read: Sabres Fall to Leafs in Overtime, 2-1

Eric Robinson

The Sabres traded for Eric Robinson earlier this season and seem to like him, but, with an expiring deal, it would be no surprise to see the big forward traded at the deadline. Robinson’s role is considered replacement-level in the NHL, meaning callups and cheaper signings could fill the role next season.

Tyson Jost

Another pending unrestricted free agent, Tyson Jost has been buried in the AHL for most of 2024. You might think that is a sign of little to no trade value, but Jost has a couple of things working in his favor. Firstly, he’s shown an ability to contribute to the penalty kill. That’s essential if he’s going to add depth to a playoff team.

Second, Jost is versatile. He can play center or wing, which can be valuable as a depth piece. Again, he’s likely not worth more than a late draft pick, but teams could come calling about Jost.

Eric Comrie

Buffalo’s likely fine keeping Eric Comrie through the end of the season as their backup goalie, allowing Devon Levi to continue to develop in Rochester. If a team is looking for goaltending depth, however, Comrie’s pending free agency certainly makes him expendable.

Comrie’s been adequate this season and goaltenders can draw a little more of a premium at the deadline.

Henri Jokiharju

Henri Jokiharju’s inclusion on this list is likely a surprise, but there may be something to the defenseman’s availability. Any deal involving Jokiharju would be more in the Mittelstadt mold, where the Sabres would be looking to swap for a quality player to help them now and in the future.

Head Coach Don Granato has reiterated he’s wanted more offense out of the Finnish defenseman, which led to his benching earlier in the season. Jokiharju’s role has expanded recently out of necessity, and he’s shown signs of being a quality top-four blueliner for Buffalo.

Jokiharju’s a restricted free agent come season’s end. Depending on what’s out there and what Adams wants to do to replace Mittelstadt up front, swapping Jokiharju for a forward could make sense.

Even if he isn’t traded at the deadline a move could occur in the offseason. It depends on the market and Adams’ willingness to remold the roster even further.