Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has been a busy man this offseason. Not only has Botterill replaced head coach Phil Housley with Ralph Krueger, but he’s also made three significant trades and has signed three free agents.
Without losing anyone of his team’s roster, Botterill has acquired Marcus Johansson, Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey and Henri Jokiharju. Not bad, not bad at all. However, with nine full-time NHLers on the team’s blue line, it appears that at least one more trade is inevitable. In fact, Sabres insider Mike Harrington predicts that the “big one” is coming for Botterill and the Sabres.
So… who’s on the chopping block? Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella, Miller, Brandon Montour, Matt Hunwick, Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Nelson and Jake McCabe are all under contract for 2019-20, so who goes? According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, there’s plenty of chatter around Ristolainen from other NHL GM’s and he could be heading to the Sabres’ divisional rival Detroit Red Wings.
Check out these quotes from Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts Podcast:
“All the talk is about Rasmus Ristolainen. I just heard the price was very high around the draft, the Ryan O’Reilly trade did not work out so well for them so I think they are careful about trading somebody else who could become a big piece in another place… but I think Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has got him out there and we will see where it goes.”
But, what about the Red Wings? Again from Friedman:
“I could see them targeting somebody like Anthony Mantha from Detroit. No idea if Detroit is willing to do anything like that, but they could see that being the kind of player Buffalo is targeting.”
No doubt that the Wings are thin on the backend and could desperately use a player of Ristolainen’s skillset, but not at the expense of losing someone like Mantha. The 24 year old power forward seems to have finally hit his stride in the NHL and broke out for 25 goals and 48 points in just 67 games in 2018-19.
Join the flip side, Ristolainen 24 year old Finnish blue liner who put up 43 points in 78 games with the Sabres. He’s not exactly chopped liver, either.