Wednesday, July 4, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
Although they didn’t do much in Free Agency once it opened this past week, the Buffalo Sabres made a splash on the trade market, shipping former alternate captain Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for two draft picks (1st 2019, 2nd 2021), and three forwards: Tage Thompson (2016 First Round pick), Patrik Berglund (2006 First Round pick), and Vladimir Sabotka (2005 Fourth Round pick).
The shining lights in this deal are obviously Thompson, along with the 2019 First Round pick – which will give Buffalo a total of three of the first 30 selections in the upcoming NHL Draft. Thompson is a 20 year old with a big build of 6’5″, and will fit in nicely with the Sabres growing roster.
“We think (Thompson) can step into the NHL and grow with our center men,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill to WGR 550 AM following the trade.
The Sabres weren’t necessarily anxious to trade one of the top-talents on their roster, but their general manager said this is what happens when you finish near the bottom of the league – you need to rebuild.
“We had to change the dynamic. The bottom line was there’s a lot of great people in that locker-room,” Botterill continued. “But when you finish 31st, you have to look to make changes, and that’s why we felt it was a good balance in making this move.”
Hutton will split time with Buffalo prospect Linus Ullmark, who has spent much of the past few seasons down on the farm. Hutton has never played over 40 games in a single season during his young NHL career, but recorded a career-high .931 save percentage in 32 contests for St. Louis last year.
When I look at all of these moves in totality, it seems to me as if the Sabres are turning a corner. Finally the front office is unafraid of moving on from the present in order to make room for increased success in the future. This team wasn’t going anywhere with Ryan O’Reilly. I agree with moving on from him in order to make room for the next generation.
And the next generation of Buffalo Sabres hockey has me mighty excited.