The Buffalo Sabres have reportedly agreed to send forwards Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to the Minnesota Wild for yet-to-be-determined draft picks and forward Torrey Mitchell, rounding out a rapid day of deadline deals across the NHL.
The Sabres confirmed the trade:
John Vogl of The Buffalo News first reported the deal, citing sources close to the situation:
Source: Sabres send Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to Minnesota for undisclosed picks and Torrey Mitchell.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) March 5, 2014
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement requires all trades to be completed by 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, though the league allows some time for teams to call in to the league office.
Moulson's departure has seemed like a foregone conclusion for weeks. An unrestricted free agent this summer, the 30-year-old winger seemed unlikely to return with a Buffalo club going through a rebuilding project.
The Sabres came into Wednesday with an NHL-low 44 points and were working the phones hard to unload aging stars—especially over the past week.
They traded goalie and Team USA star Ryan Miller along with team co-captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues in the wee hours of Saturday morning, sparking a rapid-fire sale of top players nearing the open market.
Earlier Wednesday, Buffalo's Twitter account announced that the team was continuing the rebuilding effort by sending draft picks and prospects Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Parker to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for highly touted youngsters Nicolas Deslauriers and Hudson Fasching.
Neither Deslauriers nor Fasching have played in the NHL yet, but they are among the best prospects at their respective positions.
According to Vogl, the Sabres also reportedly have another, unknown move awaiting league approval:
The Sabres' Moulson deal is NOT the only one awaiting NHL trade call, according to league source. Buffalo has another move coming.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) March 5, 2014
As for Moulson, this trade ends an almost nonexistent stint in Buffalo. Acquired 11 games into the season from the New York Islanders, Moulson was expected to give the scuffling Sabres an offensive boost that never quite came. He scored an okay 29 points in 44 games in a Buffalo uniform while being afforded his highest average ice time since 2010-11.
A three-time 30-goal scorer, Moulson has been more of a distributor in each of the last two years. However, when speaking with reporters earlier this week, he seemed hopeful that he could begin focusing on hockey again once the deadline was over:
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Buffalo, and I’ve been treated great by everyone,” Moulson said. “They have directions they want to take the team. They have to make business moves, and I understand that, so we’ll just see what happens.”
McCormick is certainly the lesser of the two acquisitions, but he could help the Wild in sporadic appearances. With the Sabres since 2010, the 30-year-old center has appeared in a total of 37 games over the past two seasons, scoring just five points.
Mitchell, 29, has mostly just been a guy who's hung around for most of his career.
He spent four seasons with the San Jose Sharks from 2007-12 before coming to Minnesota before last season. He's scored only 17 points over 103 games as a member of the Wild, but with the Sabres rebuilding, he could see an increase in playing time.
The important thing here for Buffalo is adding draft picks, which can help continue the franchise overhaul. Minnesota, in the midst of a playoff battle and in need of some offensive punch, had draft picks to spare and might be a contender to sign Moulson long-term.
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