In a busy day around the NHL, the Sabres found themselves with two new forwards after the NHL Trade Deadline came to a close. Buffalo acquired forward Wayne Simmonds from the Devils in exchange for a conditional fifth round pick, and traded Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to Pittsburgh in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun.
Sabres GM Jason Botterill emphasized multiple times in his trade recap press conference how the Sabres want to be in meaningful games at this time of the year. With Buffalo just 6 points out of a playoff spot, the GM felt that the moves made today help the team continue to trend in that direction.
“As an organization it’s time for us to continue to build, and to build on taking the next step as a group is to understand, and like I said, play meaningful games in March. And it’s going to be a difficult challenge for this group,” said Botterill.
“We’re heading on the road here now and when we come back our home schedule is against some of the top teams. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think it’s going to be a challenge for our core players to go through with that. I know Ralph is extremely excited about working with these guys. Ralph has been very pleased at the response from the players and the interactions they have. I think it’ll be a new experience for our group but we’re excited about it moving forward here. What we try to talk about as a coaching staff and a management staff is how do we best prepare this group to face the challenge and that’s why we made the moves we did today.”
Simmonds has eight goals and 16 assists through the season, but provides a physical presence. The 31 year-old also brings veteran leadership into the locker room. Simmonds may also be a key role maker on Buffalo’s power play.
“We’re excited about bringing in a veteran player such as Wayne,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill. “We’ve talked a lot about this group playing meaningful games. For Wayne, playing meaningful games in the month of March/April is something he’s very accustomed to. I think you’ve heard Ralph talk a lot about net front presence and playing a physical game. I think these are things that come natural for Wayne. We also know that we have a young group, he has a strong personality and I think his leadership is going to help our group out a lot.”
Botterill also had high praise for Kahun, who has been in the league for the last three seasons. The forward has 10 goals and 17 assists through 50 games this season, but has struggled a bit with injuries this year.
“In Dominik, I’m excited to bring a younger player into our mix, a player that is very useful, can play both wings, has a very good skill set and also has a track record of success,” said Botterill. “He had the opportunity to win an Olympic silver medal, and had numerous times playing at the World Championships, so we’re excited to bring Dominik into our group.”
The Sabres begin a four game West Coast road trip Wednesday night in Colorado.