The Buffalo Sabres are obviously not giving up on this season just yet. The team is close to acquiring Wayne Simmonds from the New Jersey Devils, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN. The Sabres are expected to send a conditional 2021 fifth-round pick to the Devils in return. Pierre LeBrun and Frank Seravalli of TSN chime in with some details. The pick can become a fourth-round pick if the Sabres make the playoffs and Simmonds plays ten games, while New Jersey will retain 50% of his cap hit through the end of the year.
The Sabres looked like they were completely out of the race a few weeks ago, but after some real struggles from both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers, Buffalo now sits just six points out of a divisional playoff spot with a game in hand.
Whether Simmonds will really be able to help them reach that goal is the question. The power forward has just eight goals and 24 points this season, a pace that would see him tally his lowest goal total since his rookie year. Part of that can be blamed on the hapless situation the Devils are in, but there are more than 900 tough, physical games on Simmonds’ frame at this point and he is obviously slowing down.
Still, an acquisition that costs you almost nothing in terms of draft capital can never really be called a loss. The Sabres will add in Simmonds’ leadership and physicality as a little boost to the stretch, a reward for the way the group has played recently.