Buffalo Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill waited until the eve of the NHL trade deadline to upgrade his roster, acquiring defenseman Brandon Montour from the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
The Sabres parted with defenseman Brendan Guhle and one of their three first-round picks in the upcoming draft to acquire Montour, a 24-year-old who has five goals among 25 points in 62 games this season.
"Brandon is a young, offensive-minded defenseman who can play the uptempo style we are looking to play," Botterill said in a statement released by the team. "He's a right-shot defenseman that brings additional playoff experience to our club."
Botterill has said for weeks that he did not want to spend assets on a rental and did not deviate from that plan. Montour won't be a restricted free agent until next summer and is owed a modest $3.3 million in 2019-20, according to CapFriendly.com.
A second-round draft pick in 2014, Montour has recorded 16 goals among 63 points in 169 NHL regular-season games over three seasons and played roughly two AHL seasons before becoming a mainstay on the Ducks' roster. He has a minus-16 rating this season but was a plus-27 over the previous two seasons. Additionally, Montour has eight assists in 21 playoff games, helping the Ducks reach the Western Conference Finals in 2017.
Montour has played on Anaheim's top pairing this season and is averaging 22 minutes, 40 seconds per game. He ranked fourth on the team in power-play ice time.
Guhle, 21 years old and left-handed, was a 2015 second-round draft pick by former General Manager Tim Murray and played only 23 regular-season games over three seasons with the Sabres, including two this year. He had five goals among 27 points in 50 games in Rochester this season and became expendable with the emergence of 23-year-old rookie Lawrence Pilut, who rejoined the Amerks this week. Guhle is expected to join the Ducks immediately and could be in their lineup in Vancouver on Monday.
In a recent interview with The Buffalo News, Guhle was candid when asked about the departures of Nicholas Baptiste and Justin Bailey, two prospects who were drafted by Botterill's predecessors.
"You see it all the time," Guhle saidin Blue Cross Arena. "It’s a business. Every guy is kind of playing for himself in that way, but you have to do everything you can to put yourself in a position to succeed."
Botterill may not be done, either. In addition to the injured Marco Scandella, the Sabres have eight healthy defensemen: Montour, Rasmus Ristolainen, Rasmus Dahlin, Zach Bogosian, Jake McCabe, Nathan Beaulieu, Matt Hunwick and Casey Nelson.
Beaulieu, a 26-year-old pending restricted free agent, requested to be traded last month if his playing time did not increase but fared well in a 5-2 win over Washington on Saturday. The team has two pending unrestricted free agents: wingers Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville.
The Sabres still own two first-round picks, their selection and a conditional choice. The Amerks' roster still includes forwards Victor Olofsson, Rasmus Asplund and Alexander Nylander, as well as defenseman Will Borgen.
Buffalo did not lose a player off its NHL roster or deplete its prospect pool to acquire a player many regarded as one of the top remaining available defensemen.
The Sabres (29-24-8) are six points behind Carolina for the second wild-card spot with a grueling schedule ahead, beginning Monday night in Toronto. Botterill has until the deadline at 3 p.m. Monday, to make any trades for the playoff push.