A very interesting trade just went down out of nowhere as the Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal for Buffalo Sabres winger Marcus Johansson. Both the Sabres and Wild were underwhelming this past season and moves to improve the team were predicted this offseason. However, this one for one deal between the Sabres and Wild made absolutely no sense for either teams.
In his first and only season with the Sabres, Johansson played decently, putting up 40 points in 60 games. Although Johansson is normally a winger, he played out of position as second-line center for the Sabres. But this offseason, they wanted to unload Johansson along with his $4.5 million cap hit. The main reason the Sabres wanted to get rid of Johansson was to make room for Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittlestadt, two centers who would see tons of ice time next season. However, the Sabres filled their second-line center spot with 35-year-old Staal who might stunt their growth.
The Wild on the other hand, desperately needed a center. Eric Staal played great for the Wild in his four years as the first-line center, scoring 65, 76, 52, points and this season was on pace for almost 60 points. As Staal’s career was slowly coming to an end, the Wild needed a new center for the future and had the perfect opportunity to trade for one. The Wild could have packaged Eric Staal and his cheap 3.25 million dollar cap hit for a young and promising center. But, the Wild decided to add a winger to their already stacked winger depth.
Winner: Although this trade did not help any of these teams significantly, the Sabres definitely came out with the better end of the deal. Staal has far more value than Johansson which means if they are doing poorly, they could flip him at the deadline for more assets. Along with that, Staal could serve as a great mentor for the young Sabres team. The Wild did not improve at all from this trade and missed out on an opportunity to get a prospect like Casey Mittlestadt from the Sabres.