By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
The trading deadline offered one big question for Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill.
Would he be willing to give up some of the team’s future assets to improve the team right away?
It turned out that the answer was yes.
On Sunday night, the Sabres sent a first-round draft choice in 2019 – either the one acquired from San Jose or St. Louis, depending on some complicated circumstances – and prospect Brendan Guhle to Anaheim. In return, Buffalo received defenseman Brandon Montour.
The deal gives coach Phil Housley some new possibilities for his defensive group. Montour is only 24, and is under contract until the summer of 2020. He had five goals and 20 assists and is a minus-16 in 62 games for the Ducks this season. This is his second full season in the NHL.
“Brandon is a young, offensive-minded defenseman who can play the up-tempo style we are looking to play,” said General Manager Jason Botterill in a prepared statement. “He’s a right-shot defenseman that brings additional playoff experience to our club.”
Since GM Bob Murray took over as the Ducks’ interim coach, Montour’s ice time is said to have dropped off. Therefore, a trade wasn’t surprising at that end; Pittsburgh was said to have had some interest in him. But Montour is considered a fast skater with a good shot.
Guhle has spent almost all of this season in Rochester, although he has seen some limited playing time in Buffalo during his time as a Sabre. Guhle is 21, but seemed to drop down the defensive rankings a bit this season – particularly with newcomers Rasmus Dahlin and Lawrence Pilut added to the cast this season. He’ll report to the Ducks.
“Brendan Guhle is an excellent skater who is ready to take the next step in his career. Adding Guhle and a first-round pick is an important step as we retool our team moving forward,” Murray said.
The Sabres went into Sunday night’s NHL games six points out of a playoff spot. If nothing else, Botterill has sent a signal to his team that he’s not giving up on making moves that will help the team immediately.
The trading deadline is at 3 p.m. on Monday. By then we’ll know if Botterill is done or not.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)