Trade rumors have enveloped the Buffalo Sabres for almost the entirety of this NHL season, but one new name has been added to the list of potential moves ahead of the April 12 deadline.
According to TSN’s Pierre Lebrun, established center Eric Staal might find himself on a new team that is headed for a deep run in the postseason.
“Obviously the pending UFAs in Buffalo are the most likely to move,” Lebrun added on TSN’s Insider Trading segment, “they're the easiest to move at this time of year. Eric Staal would be among those players.”
Staal was acquired by the Sabres from the Minnesota Wild prior to the beginning of this season. Before the move, the 36-year-old forward reportedly told the Wild that he would prefer to stay put, but was moved to Buffalo in exchange for Marcus Johansson.
Now on the bottom-of-the-barrel Sabres, Staal — who is apparently without his family and living in a Buffalo hotel (joy!) — wouldn’t mind a trade to one of the top teams in the league. Even with a 10-team no trade list, he would certainly have some suitors lined up to acquire the pending unrestricted free agent.
Having scored a total of 240 points through his four seasons as a member of the Wild, surrounded by less talent than what's currently in Buffalo, some teams in need of a middle-six center are paying close attention.
“Keep an eye on Edmonton,” Lebrun mentioned. “A trade with the Oilers would have to be dollar-in dollar-out, they're right at the cap, they are in LTIR, but they are looking to upgrade their third line and I'm told that Staal is a name that has been mentioned internally by the Oilers brass.
Adding Staal to the top-heavy lineup of the Oilers would be an interesting commitment-free add for a team that has some significant expectations, considering that they have the most talented hockey player in the world under contract. A team that has won just a single playoff round since 2006 would be more than happy to add some offensive power that can give them that slight advantage come postseason time.
Through 23 games with the Sabres, Staal has recorded three goals and eight points.
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