NHL trade grade: Buffalo Sabres get their center in Eric Staal

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Trades are allowed to happen during the Stanley Cup Playoffs because these times deserve nothing but chaos. The Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild have reportedly made a trade, with the former sending Marcus Johansson to the latter for Eric Staal.

Darren Dreger was the first to report the trade. Elliotte Friedman confirmed it. It’s a one-for-one trade, as nothing else is heading to either team.

Let’s take a look at this trade from both sides and grade how each team did!

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres were hoping Marcus Johansson could solve their center issues, but he simply wasn’t good enough there, though he was still useful. However, at this point, Staal’s an upgrade as a center over Johansson.

Eric Staal’s a very underrated player. He’s quietly put together a heck of a career. Staal’s within striking distance of 500 goals and 600 assists, which would put him in rare company. Only five players have done it. Three of them are Hall of Famers. The other two (Jaromir Jagr Patrick Marleau) will be once they retire. Well, in Jagr’s case, if he ever retires.

Anyway, Staal should slot in as the Sabres second-line center for next season. With Dylan Cozens on the rise, the Sabres are no longer forced to put Cozens in that role. And let’s say he does well enough to earn it. Staal could easily slot in as the third line center or as a wing for Cozens or Eichel.

If that wasn’t enough, the Sabres actually gained some cap space, as Staal’s $3.25 million cap hit is less than Johansson’s $4.5 million cap hit. Staal had 47 points last season in 60 games. His speed has declined, but his hockey sense is still terrific and he’s still got quite a bit left in the tank.

Grade: A-. Really like this move for Buffalo. Wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t done trying to add center depth.

The Minnesota Wild wanted to get younger this offseason and Johansson helps with that. Staal is 35 while Johansson is 29 (though he turns 30 in October). That said, Johansson struggled last season. He had nine goals and 30 points in 60 games for the Sabres. Meanwhile, Staal had 47 points and 19 goals.

My biggest issue with this trade is the Wild need centers. They’ve already lost Mikko Koivu. Now they’ve lost Staal, who was arguably their second-best center. If Johansson can bounce back, this trade might look a little bit better. But when you trade someone like Staal for someone like Johansson, it’s going to raise some eyebrows.

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Source: https://puckprose.com/2020/09/16/nhl-trade-grade-buffalo-sabres-minnesota-wild-eric-staal-marcus-johansson/

Buffalo Sabres, Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild, Marcus Johansson, National Hockey League, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers

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