BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — While fans anticipate whether the Sabres will make a move to fortify their playoff push ahead of the NHL trade deadline, general manager Kevyn Adams added to his stockpile of draft picks by trading away minor-league forward Anders Bjork and unsigned goaltender prospect Erik Portillo.
Buffalo received future draft considerations from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Bjork on Thursday, after securing a third-round selection from Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night for Portillo, a University of Michigan junior who was likely to decline an entry-level contract offer from Buffalo and become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
In a corresponding move Thursday to replace Bjork in the Rochester Americans’ lineup, Orchard Park native Carson Gicewicz was acquired from the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford in exchange for future draft considerations. The 25-year-old Gicewicz, a Nichols School graduate who won a national championship playing for UMass, has 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 112 games for the IceHogs.
The Sabres now have extra picks in the second and third rounds of the 2023 draft, along with each of their own selections. They could be used in a package for a lineup upgrade before the 3 p.m. Friday trade deadline. Or the Sabres could let this week’s acquisition of defenseman Riley Stillman stand as their only late-season addition, continuing their prudent approach to building a championship-caliber roster.
Stillman made has Sabres debut Thursday night in Boston, skating on the top defenseman pair with Mattias Samuelsson. To make room for Stillman on the roster, the Sabres placed All-Star defenseman Rasmus Dahlin on injured reserve retroactive to last week went he went out of the lineup with an undisclosed ailment. Listed as day-to-day, Dahlin would be eligible to return to the roster after the trade deadline, but coach Don Granato has already ruled Dahlin out for Saturday’s home game against the Lightning
Buffalo (31-24-4) entered Thursday night’s game at Boston in the best position to reach the postseason in the 12 years since it the NHL-record drought began. The Sabres stood three points behind the Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but with an additional game in hand, and a better points percentage (.559) than the seventh-place Islanders (.547).
The 26-year-old Bjork played one game for Buffalo this season among 74 appearances since he was acquired from Boston before the 2021 trade deadline, along with a second-round pick that was used on Russian winger Aleksandr Kisakov, in exchange for Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar. Bjork has 53 points (24 goals, 29 assists) in 212 NHL games. He has compiled 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 42 games this season with the Rochester Americans.
Portillo, 22, was Buffalo’s third-round pick in 2019. The 6-foot-6 Swede has been a standout player for Michigan, but with the Sabres adding Northeastern goalie Devon Levi by trade in the 2021 offseason, and also having 23-year-old Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the organization, Portillo was believed to be uninterested in signing with the Sabres following his college career.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.