The Buffalo Sabres have added a little bit of defensive depth, acquiring Riley Stillman from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for prospect Josh Bloom. The move comes at a particularly important time as the Sabres’ top defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin, is out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
That’s not to say that Stillman, 24, will be able to replace what Dahlin brings to the Sabres, of course, but it does make compensating for his absence a little easier. This is the second time Stillman has been traded this season, with the first being when he was sent to Vancouver by the Chicago Blackhawks for Jason Dickinson.
In his 32 games in Vancouver, Stillman averaged just over 16 minutes of ice time, registering five points. He contributed to their penalty kill and should be able to add some muscle and defensive depth to the Sabres’ blueline.
He’s under contract through next season at a $1.35MM cap hit and will be a restricted free agent after that point. Should he impress in a Sabres uniform, the team will have the option to keep him around for the foreseeable future.
While he won’t be the difference between the Sabres making or missing the playoffs this season, the team has played well enough to stay in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s unknown whether this deal is all Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has planned for this deadline, but at the very least he’s rewarded his players with a competent defensive reinforcement that has some team control to boot.
For the Canucks, this move is part of the team shifting their focus towards the future, ever so slightly. They exchange a decent if relatively inconsequential defender for an intriguing prospect who has been on an upward trend.
Bloom, 19, is a six-foot-two winger who plays for the North Bay Battalion in the OHL. He’s scored 19 goals and 42 points in 40 games for North Bay this year and is regarded as a well-rounded, intelligent player who could have an NHL future.
While this trade might hurt the Canucks’ defensive ranks in the short term, it’s hard to argue with the team exchanging a defender like Stillman for a prospect like Bloom. If the Canucks intend to be serious about re-tooling and building for the future, these are the sorts of deals the front office should be making. It’s a reasonable exchange of present assets for future value on each side, and it’s a trade that fits the current goals of both franchises quite well.