After acquiring forward Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets, it appears as though the Los Angeles Kings are interested in dealing captain Dustin Brown. One team that should do anything within reason to acquire him is the Buffalo Sabres.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Sabres are one of eight teams with strong interest in acquiring the gritty winger. It's a bit curious that the Kings would want to trade their second-leading goal scorer when they rank last in the league in scoring, but Buffalo needs to capitalize on the situation.
Brown's numbers are a bit down this season with 14 goals and 31 points through 61 games, but he's proven in the past that he is a consistent offensive producer. Prior to this season, Brown has netted at least 24 goals and 53 points in four consecutive campaigns. When you add to that his rough-and-tumble style of play and leadership, he is an ideal second-liner.
The Sabres have played much better of late, but they are ultimately a major disappointment this season. With the offseason acquisitions of Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr and Ville Leino, Buffalo was considered a surefire playoff team by most. Instead, they are currently seven points out of the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference and need a fantastic late-season run to make it.
While Brown may not save their season this year, he is precisely the type of player the Sabres need. The overwhelming sentiment in Buffalo is that the team is suffering from a rotting core, which includes forwards Derek Roy, Drew Stafford and Paul Gaustad, specifically. While all of them have been productive at some point during their career, they haven't lived up to their billing this year.
Essentially, the only players contributing offensively for the Sabres right now are Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, as they have combined for 46 of the team's 150 goals, or roughly one-third. Secondary scoring has been non-existent because neither Roy nor Stafford has held up their end of the bargain with 23 total goals.
Roy had four straight seasons with at least 63 points from 2006-07 to 2009-10, while Stafford was among the NHL leaders in goals per game last year with 31 in 62 games. Most Sabres fans consider Roy and Stafford to be the two biggest on-ice culprits for Buffalo's struggles this season, and it's possible that neither will be on the roster by the start of next season.
With that said, a player like Brown, who has a nose for the net and leadership qualities, is the perfect antidote for what ills the Sabres. Brown isn't afraid to get involved physically and he brings a consistent effort every night, which is something that can't be said for most of the players currently on Buffalo's roster.
On top of that, Brown has an extremely friendly cap hit of $3.175 million through the 2013-14 season. Not only would he help the Sabres now, but he could be a big part of a potential Stanley Cup contender over the next couple years if further astute moves are made this offseason.
Although it's uncertain precisely what Los Angeles will ask for in return, it stands to reason that it would love to get a puck-moving defenseman after dealing Jack Johnson to Columbus for Carter. Luckily for Sabres fans, Buffalo is loaded with offensively-minded defensemen, making a Brown for Andrej Sekera swap quite sensible.
Should the Sabres pursue Dustin Brown in a trade?
Sekera has a great cap hit in his own right at $2.75 million through 2014-15, so it makes financial sense for both sides. Sekera has developed into one of the team's most reliable defensemen, and while he only has 10 points on the season, that doesn't tell the story of how good his offensive skills are.
Unfortunately, you have to give up quality players to get quality players, so the Sabres will need to part with an asset like Sekera to land Brown. Buffalo has plenty of good, young defensemen in the system, though, like Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc.
The Sabres would be dealing from a position of strength, so it would be silly for them not to consider the deal if it should come up in negotiations. Buffalo needs a change in culture, and a hard-working yet skilled player like Brown is a piece that the Sabres have been missing for quite some time.