The Detroit Red Wings era for forward Scott Wilson will come to a quick end, as the team has traded him to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick. Wilson was acquired by the Red Wings just this season as part of the Riley Sheahan trade, and will move on after just 17 games with the club.
Wilson, 25, is scoreless this season through 20 games but showed last year that he’s capable of adding some secondary scoring if given the chance. With 78 games in his first full season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he scored 26 points in limited minutes and added another six in the playoffs. He played fewer than 10 minutes in all but three of his games with Detroit, but will likely be afforded more ice time in Buffalo.
With just a $625K cap hit in the second year of his current contract, Wilson will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Though his early play hasn’t done much to help his case, a good second half with Buffalo could put him in line for a multi-year deal as a valuable bottom-six player. With the Sabres waiving Matt Moulson today, there is clearly a change coming in Buffalo.
Wilson will be reunited with GM Jason Botterill, who previously worked with the Penguins when Wilson was working his way through the minor league system. He’ll also join Evan Rodrigues, a former teammate with the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL. Both played in that league partly to maintain their NCAA eligibility, heading to UMass-Lowell (Wilson) and Boston University (Rodrigues). With Rodrigues just called up this morning, there’s a possibility the pair even plays together right away.
The Red Wings had sent a fifth-round pick along with Sheahan to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which they’ve now basically reclaimed with the deal to Buffalo—though, the original pick was for 2018, meaning they’ve moved back a year. For a team that was shellacked on the weekend and is beginning to show cracks in their early season success, Detroit is committed to adding future assets even as they attempt to make the playoffs.
Whether Botterill and company see Wilson as a piece long-term will be decided before next season, but there was clearly an impression made on him in the past to use an asset at this point in the year. The Sabres are almost completely out of playoff contention already, and are just looking for some consistency or improvement at this point. Wilson is nothing if not a hard worker, and could inject some energy into the team right away. Whether that translates into points is still to be seen.