Most talk about the trade was entirely speculative, so no names could be discussed with any sort of authority, but the lockout may have given some clarity as to the situation if it were to play out.
To rehash what was said this summer, the Oilers need defenseman. Justin Schultz has blown the top off of the AHL in Oklahoma City during the lockout, but he’s not going to be the three-zone guy that the Oilers sorely need. His success would certainly go a long way, but the Oilers are likely going to need more.
Enter the Sabres with the cache of NHL-caliber defensemen.
The Oilers would have plenty of options on the Buffalo blue line. They could go the veteran route and inquire about Jordan Leopold. They could entertain another offensive-defenseman in Andrej Sekera, who would also meet any youth requirements if the Oilers had them. They could go the defensively sound depth route in Mike Weber or Alexander Sulzer.
So, who would the Sabres be targeting? Odds are it’s Sam Gagner who has been on the trading block in Edmonton according to some outlets for the better part of the past two seasons.
Gagner played with Tyler Myers in Austria during the lockout for Klagenfurter AC and enjoyed success, scoring 20 points in 21 games.
Gagner is still extremely young at 23 years old, and he now has five NHL seasons under his belt. He has struggled in an Oilers uniform to find any level of consistency, but has put up solid point totals in all five of those years, never mind his stellar eight point game last season.
Realistically, the Sabres will only give up some valuable pieces if they feel Gagner will come in and play a big part. That means if they get through training camp and feel that rookie Mikhail Grigorenko can cut it at the NHL level, then it would be a stretch to see Gagner in the blue and gold.
If Grigorenko were to stick, the Sabres would likely move a defenseman for a scoring winger or draft picks in the upcoming draft given the depth that many scouts say is there.
However, if Grigorenko does not stay, Gagner would be an excellent addition to a second or third line.
Regardless, the Sabres are likely going to have to move some of their defenseman given the logjam they have forming at the back end. Whether it’s to the Oilers or another defense-starved team like the Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche or Minnesota Wild.