As Tim Murray heads toward his third NHL trade deadline in seller mode, a few things can be learned by looking back at his first two:
• He brings in players with one year left on their contract, giving the Sabres an asset to ship out at the following deadline.
• He’s fond of acquiring draft picks.
• He likes making deals.
Since Murray’s mindset this season mirrors the previous two, the final days leading up to the Feb. 29 deadline should be interesting for fans and nerve-racking for players.
“Trader Tim” has made 16 deals since being hired as Buffalo’s general manager in January 2014. He’s shipped out 20 players and nine draft picks while taking in 21 players and 11 picks.
Nine of those 16 deals have come at or near the deadline (excluding the Evander Kane trade, which was a hockey deal despite its proximity to the league’s annual swap meet). The deadline deals, as expected for a rebuilding team, were heavily weighted toward acquiring picks. Murray has acquired 11 players and nine picks at the deadline while shipping out 12 players and three picks.
Here’s a look back at the deadline deals, starting with Murray’s inaugural 2013-14 season:
• Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and 2016 third-rounder.
Carrier, 21, recently had a stretch of nine points in 10 games with Rochester. The Sabres traded the first-round pick to Winnipeg.
• Halak and a 2015 third-round pick to Washington for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla.
Klesla never reported to Buffalo. The Capitals used the pick to move into the second round.
• Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to Minnesota for Torrey Mitchell and second-round picks in 2014 and 2016.
The 2014 second-round pick was traded to Los Angeles. Buffalo sent the 2016 second-rounder to Montreal for Josh Gorges.
• Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker and second-round picks in 2014 and 2015 to Los Angeles for Nicolas Deslauriers and Hudson Fasching.
McNabb is a top-four defenseman with the Kings. Fasching leads the University of Minnesota in goals as a junior.
• Jhonas Enroth to Dallas for Anders Lindback and a 2016 third-round pick.
It would have been a second-rounder if Enroth won four playoff games. He didn’t.
• Stewart to Minnesota for a 2017 second-rounder.
Murray was determined to get that round for the pending unrestricted free agent.
• Mitchell to Montreal for Jack Nevins and a 2016 seventh-rounder.
Nevins is a minor-league enforcer.
• Neuvirth to the New York Islanders for Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round pick.
Johnson is one of the Sabres’ available UFAs this deadline.
• Brian Flynn to Montreal for a 2016 fifth-rounder.
The pick is one of 11 the Sabres are scheduled to take in this year’s NHL Draft, which will be held in Buffalo. While the Sabres certainly want to keep the fans who attend the selection show entertained, 11 picks is likely too many. It can create future contract chaos in terms of the number of players and those eligible for pay days at the same time.
The additional assets could allow Murray to throw in picks with his players in order to secure a higher selection. None of the pending UFAs – Jamie McGinn, David Legwand, Mike Weber, Carlo Colaiacovo and Johnson – are worth more than a third-round pick based on past trades of players with similar resumes, but throwing in a mid- to late-round pick could entice a team to go bigger.