In a straight up one for one trade without any salary retained, the Sabres and Wild made a interesting deal. Buffalo acquired veteran center Eric Staal from Minnesota for forward Marcus Johansson.
It’s a deal that should help the Sabres for the short-term. Lacking a number two center to play behind star pivot Jack Eichel, they went out and got the 35-year old Staal. A wise move that can provide some additional scoring punch in the middle. He has one year left on his contract at $3.25 million through 2021.
Johansson will move to his fifth NHL team. Originally a Capital, he wound up in New Jersey and was rented by Boston before landing with the Sabres. A versatile forward who can play left wing or shift over to center, he’s owed $4.5 million for next season. He’ll be 30 by the time 2020-21 begins.
Each player had a moderated 10 team No Trade list. Neither the Sabres or Wild were on it. It’s nice to see an old fashioned straight up trade minus the cap headaches. Clearly, each team is looking for a change.
Though I like it better for the Sabres, who know with Staal in one for one year, he’ll have plenty of incentive following a down year. He posted 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points in 66 contests for the Wild. His lowest output since he totaled a combined 39 between the Hurricanes and Rangers where it didn’t work out.
Staal was much more successful in St. Paul where he produced 240 points (111-129-240) over four years. That included recording 42 goals and 76 points in ’17-18. For his 16-year career, the former Hurricanes ’03 second overall pick who led them to a Stanley Cup, has registered 436 goals with 585 assists for a total of 1021 points over 1240 games.
He should be a positive influence for former Sabres 2019 first round pick Dylan Cozens. They can remain patient with him and do what’s best for his development.
As for Johansson, he’s coming off a disappointing season in which he had only nine goals in 60 games. Not what the Sabres had in mind. He did wind up with 21 assists and 30 points, but it wasn’t enough production for the two-year investment they made. Maybe a change of scenery will give him a boost.
The Wild have a interesting roster with Kevin Fiala emerging as a young star while veteran Zach Parise remains there. They just locked up strong left defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42 million extension. That could mean Matt Dumba becomes available given their defensive depth.
With the official off-season approaching soon, we’ll see more interesting things develop throughout the NHL. The Stars are still waiting for a dance partner for the Cup with the Islanders not cooperating last night. Game Six is tomorrow night with the Lightning again looking to close them out.