The Buffalo Sabers are working with the phones today after taking another loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. Earlier in the day Darren Dreger of TSN reported this Sabers GM Kevyn Adams has spoken with several teams about a Taylor Hall trade and has now acted Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens. The Sabers will receive a third round for 2021 and a fifth round for 2021 for the Veterans Center. Buffalo also keeps $ 1,625 million (50%) of Steel’s salary and maximum hit.
Adams got a close-up and a personal look at the Sabers last night as he moved behind the couch while interim head coach Don Granato was isolated over COVID protocols. What he saw was another listless attempt by his team, losing 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sabers have now lost 16 consecutive games and have been eliminated more often than they have won this season.
Like everyone else at Buffalo, Staal is a shadow of his former self this season, scoring just three goals and ten points in 32 games. The 36-year-old appeared to compete quite admirably against father time last season, scoring 19 goals and 47 points in just 66 games for the Minnesota Wild. That was the fourth strong season in a row for Staal in Minnesota, but an off-season trade took him to Buffalo, where he struggled to get anything going. Chemistry has never been formed with Hall and at times Steel has been used as a bottom six player for the Sabers. His average ice age of 3:34 p.m. on the year is the lowest in his entire career and the results have been tracked.
Still, there’s no question that he was an intriguing option for teams looking to bolster their mid-range for the long run. With a cap of just $ 3.25 million expiring at the end of the year, the financial commitment of an acquiring team would be small. 1,272 regular season games with experience, not to mention a Stanley Cup championship (where he could have easily gotten the Conn Smythe) would be an attractive option for any contender if the price is right.
For the Sabers, trading in Steel has been a no-brainer given the bad season has gone, and the Canadian government’s recent decision to reduce quarantine for incoming players has only increased their market. Steel does have a 10-team no-trade clause, but failing to get something back for him would have been a serious misstep at the Buffalo front office.
Still, two choices in the middle of the round for a player with Steel status may appeal to the state of the market at this point. There aren’t many teams in the league willing to add money by the deadline and the Sabers clearly felt they wouldn’t get a better offer.
For the Canadiens, a third and a fifth is actually nothing, given the number of other tow bars they already have. The team had collected 14 tips for the 2021 event, including three thirds and three fifths. It will be the Montreal picks that go to Buffalo, not the ones they acquired from other teams.
Even with salary retention, Steel’s presence in Montreal pushes the Canadiens to the ceiling of the hat. To push Paul ByronThe contract with the taxi crew allows them to complete the move as he is still eligible after waivers release, but it will be a tight dance for the rest of the year. GM of Montreal Marc Bergevin had repeatedly explained that his cap situation would limit maneuvering to the deadline, but it certainly didn’t stop them from getting their hands on one of the best rental properties on the market.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli was the first to report that a deal had been made with Montreal.
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