Trade: Canadiens acquire Eric Staal from Sabres for 2021 draft picks

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The exodus from Buffalo has begun as the Sabres are sending Eric Staal to the Canadiens for third and fifth-round picks in the 2021 NHL Draft. Buffalo will also be retaining $1.625M of Staal’s salary this season.

In 32 games this season the 36-year-old Staal has three goals and 10 points. The Sabres acquired him from the Wild in September for Marcus Johansson.

Staal is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. The Canadiens were on his 10-team no-trade list, but the center choice to waive the clause to make the deal happen.

Following Thursday’s news that the Canadian government is expected to reduce quarantine time for NHL players, Staal will likely only have to self-isolate for seven days and not 14 before joining his new team.

[MORE: 2020-21 NHL Trade Tracker]

This will likely be the first of several moves made by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams. Taylor Hall, also a pending UFA, is expected to be dealt before the April 12 NHL trade deadline. A Jack Eichel trade, if that does indeed materialize, would likely happen during the summer.

The Eric Staal addition may not be the last by the Canadiens this weekend. Wisconsin’s loss in Friday’s NCAA Regional Semifinal to Bemidji State will likely end Cole Caufield‘s NCAA career. It’s expected he will forego his final two years of eligibility to sign with Montreal. The expected Hobey Baker Award winner led the nation in scoring with 30 goals and 52 points in 31 games for the Badgers this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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