Kevyn Adams made his first big move as the new GM of the Buffalo Sabres yesterday when he sent Marcus Johansson to Minnesota in exchange for Eric Staal.
It's a move that saves the Sabres' a little over a million in cap space, but I don't think that cap space is going to be much of an issue for Adams this offseason…
From upper management to coaching staff to scouts, players, parking lot attendants, I'd say the Buffalo Sabres have maybe 10% of their organization from last season coming back next year. Only 4 forwards under contract. But with that being the case, they have a fuck ton of cap space to work with. So saving cap space clearly wasn't the main motive for this trade. And as far as point production goes, I think Eric Staal is definitely an upgrade over the Marcus Johansson we've seen since he left Washington. He hasn't been able to stay healthy and when he is healthy, he hasn't been able to produce. But it's not like a 35-year-old Eric Staal is going to be the guy who immediately fixes Buffalo's secondary scoring woes either. So point production couldn't have been the main motive either.
Instead, I think the Buffalo Sabres are making the first legitimately smart decision they've made in years as an organization. They're finally getting Jack Eichel some relief. He's had to do everything for this team the past few years. He's needed to score all of the points, he's needed to do all of the leading, I'm pretty sure he was even working the concession stands during intermission. But now you bring in a guy like Eric Staal. A guy who knows how to lead and has a Stanley Cup on his resume. And when he won that Stanley Cup, he was teammates with his now GM Kevyn Adams.
I'd imagine Kevyn Adams probably has a pretty good idea of what 21-year-old Eric Staal was like in that locker room when they won the Cup together. Then you add another 14 years of experience and leadership to that. Eric Staal is probably the best guy available to come in and be a mentor to Eichel. And if you have Staal in the locker room to take on more of a leadership role, then Jack Eichel can focus more on doing a bunch of kick ass shit like this.
A superstar who needs help trying to build a winning culture in the locker room. A GM who won a Cup with the guy. And one of the only other forwards who are signed for next season in Jeff Skinner started his career with Eric Staal as his captain. Like I said, this is the first legitimately good hockey move I can remember the Sabres making since drafting Eichel in the first place. Definitely a decent sign of things to come for all you folks in Buffalo.