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 Harrington and many other analysts, including Matt Larkin of The Hockey News, it appears that Ristolainen is the one being shopped most aggressively.
The 24 year old Finnish blue liner put up 43 points in 78 games with the Sabres last season and carries a $5.4 million cap hit for the next three seasons. Larkin proposes three possible destinations for Ristolainen, all of which make sense from the outside looking in. Those teams?
Check out the excerpt from Larkin’s column below:
1. Edmonton Oilers: We don’t know for certain Evan Bouchard is ready for top-four duty yet. Landing Ristolainen would take the pressure off, and the Oilers could dangle Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who makes just $600,000 more than Ristolainen, in a 1-for-1 swap.
2. Winnipeg Jets: The right side of Winnipeg’s blueline is decimated with Jacob Trouba traded to the New York Rangers and Tyler Myers signing with the Vancouver Canucks. The Jets aren’t deep enough at center to dangle Bryan Little, but could they offer Jack Roslovic and more? Nikolaj Ehlers would be a good fit value wise but less so positionally for Buffalo.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts’ right side lacks another top-four talent even if lefty Mikhail Sergachev ends up playing there, with the physical Erik Cernak better suited for third-pair work. Tampa’s obviously smashed up against the cap and would need to send out salary. Julien BriseBois has been hesitant to trade Tyler Johnson but, from a financial and positional-need standpoint, he sure would be a dream fit for Buffalo.