While people rightly chose to group trade deadline teams into “buyers” and “sellers,” there could be quite a few teams who aren’t really sure where they stand. That’s what happens when both conferences have convoluted playoff bubble situations, which is the case this season.
The Buffalo Sabres seem like they might be one of those hybrid teams, judging by the fact that they’re tied for ninth place in the Eastern Conference right now.
This unclear status might encourage the team to stick with players who have contracts that extend past this season, but perhaps they might become “sellers” when it comes to expiring deals?
Talented but injury prone center Tim Connolly might be the leading candidate for such a trade, according to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.
The center is in the final year of the controversial two-year, $9 million extension he signed at the trade deadline in 2009. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the season and could be the kind of third-line center and special teams player that a club like Pittsburgh, Washington or Los Angeles might be interested in as the NHL trade deadline looms next Monday.
It’s unfathomable that the Sabres would re-sign Connolly again for next season. And many observers think it would be hard to believe he even lasts the week here.
“I don’t know what to expect to happen,” Connolly said after practice Monday in HSBC Arena. “I’ve seen a lot of deals happen early this year but those aren’t real deadline deals. You just have to wait and see. It’s not in my control. I have to perform to the best of my ability for this team. I’m excited about this team. We still have a good shot [to make the playoffs].”
Obviously it would make sense to make a trade if the Sabres decided to move on without Connolly anyway, but if they move him for picks and/or prospects, it will make the task of making the playoffs even tougher. After all, they’re already short on centers with Derek Roy on the shelf.
That being said, there are some teams who could benefit from adding Connolly’s skill and speed to their mix. The Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings are among the teams who could use a player like him, if the price is right.
Please note that this is just a rumor, although it does come from a beat reporter so it holds a little more weight. We’ll keep you informed of all the latest trade news, as it’s obvious teams aren’t procrastinating as much this season when it comes to the deadline.