The Sabres have been one of the biggest surprises around the NHL in the early going this season. Instead of being on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, they have one of the top records in the league. With that in mind, some have wondered if Buffalo may want to start looking to add to their roster. In an appearance on WGR 550 (audio link), TSN’s Darren Dreger indicated that GM Jason Botterill isn’t engaged in any significant trade talks at the moment.
Instead, the focus in the short-term appears to be focusing on extension talks with pending UFA winger Jeff Skinner. Last month, it was reported that talks on a new deal would start sometime this month but Dreger notes that the Sabres intend to slow play these discussions. Skinner is among the league leaders in goals this season and is positioned to land a substantial raise on his current $6MM salary.
Unlike some teams that are tighter to the salary cap, Buffalo has plenty of long-term flexibility. The team has just shy of $56MM committed for next season per CapFriendly with just 13 players under contract. Even if they get Skinner locked up, they’ll still have lots of space for next season. However, their injuries have used up most of their cap room for this year as they’ve routinely been carrying well over 23 players on their roster as a result. That certainly limits their ability to get a trade done in the short term.
As a result of their cap space beyond this season, when Botterill does decide to pursue help via trade, he won’t be restricted to the rental market and will be able to look at longer-term commitments. Given where they are in terms of their roster setup, a multi-year addition may be the better way to go. But until they get a read on Skinner’s situation and free up some extra cap room once some of their injured players return, the Sabres will be staying away from making any trades.