Finally: Sabres Make Impact Trade

As I See It.

The NHL trade deadline is still ahead as this is being written, but Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has pulled the trigger on a trade that actually makes sense in many ways – for both the Sabres and Colorado Avs.

First a quick shout out to my sponsor, Atwal Eye Care. They did a magnificent job on cataract surgery for both my eyes a few months ago. They’re the best.

Now back to the trade. Sending a 25 year old center just now hitting his potential to Colorado, is risky. Casey Mittelstadt is just 25, and was the Sabres’ 8th overall 1st round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Mittelestadt always showed promise, but now he’s the Sabres’ leading scorer with 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points in 62 games. He’s been the Sabres’ most consistent player, and I was hoping they’d find a way to keep him.


Coming to Buffalo, is 22 year old defenseman Bowan Byram, the Avs 4th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2019 NHL draft. Two things to mention right away about the 6-1, 190 lb. left shot D-man.

1- He has electric speed. The Sabres are trying to get faster as they plod through another sans/playoff season, and he certainly adds that, not to mention he’s an outstanding passer with a rocket shot. He has had a couple concussions, including two during the COVID time frame, but he’s had no issues the past couple seasons.

2- He’s won a Stanley Cup. He played well in the Avs’ 2022 Cup run.

Make no mistake, money is a factor in this deal for the Sabres, who have dished out some hefty contracts to a handfull of core players. Byram has one year left on a $7.7m deal, and will no doubt get a huge bump shortly before he becomes a RFA.  Mittelstadt is a RFA after this season, and he’d be looking at $6M a year or more whether he stayed in Buffalo or went elsewhere. The Avs, who needed a center, decided Mittelstadt was worth it.

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The addition of Byram also shows the Sabres are now serious about turning to 24 year old netminder Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen as their goalkeeper of the future. He’s started 19 of the Sabres last 21 games and in that time has registered an eye popping .928 save pct. Overall he has four shutouts and a 2.46 goals against average. He’s 6-5, 215 and uses his reach and quickness to great advantage.

The Sabres D corps is better than a lot of Sabres fans think, imo. Giving up goals hasn’t been the biggest problem. Scoring goals IS an issue, but that’s another subject for another day. Is this Don Granato’s fault? Maybe it is, but big guns like Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens have fallen way off from a year ago. The good news here, is that JJ Peterka is only 22 and has hit the 20 goal mark. He’s a dynamic skater as well, so the cupboard is hardly bare. Also love Zach Benson, just 18 but already showing he’s got the grit and talent to build on. Would it be nice to be more physical up front? Sure.

So with the additions of the 22-year old Byram, the Sabres have a young – albeit very talented – blueline group to grow together. Rasmus Dahlin is 23, Owen Power 22, Henri Jokiharju 24.

Look. If you’ve gotten this far, you at least have some amount of hope and optimism left. I’m always the glass half full guy, and although I’ll miss Mittelstadt, I’m looking forward to watching Byram sizzle down the ice.

Wiping out the front office or coaching staff is a popular subject these days, and ownership is also being targeted. I get it. However, sweeping changes now won’t change the direction for a couple years anyway with such a youthful roster. So why not wait a little longer? This group has been at its best against the league’s best teams, which is both frustrating and encouraging. I still think they’re fun to watch, and they’ve even started improving at home with the exception of the recent Winnipeg loss. That 3rd period meltdown was perplexing.

There’s still some hockey left, and it matters what happens even though they’re about to miss the playoffs. Again.

Thanks again to my sponsor, Atwal Eye Care, your Bills official eye care specialist. See ya soon.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Ed Kilgore for his contributions to our blog. You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed.

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