The Wild and Sabres completed yet another trade for players and picks. I reached out to the experts on Buffalo Sabres hockey to find out their thoughts on the blockbuster trade involving both teams. Here is what Andy from Die By the Blade had to say.
Tyler Ennis has had his career marred by injuries. Is there still salvagable talent there, and realistically, what's the right role for him?
I think there's still a small chance that Ennis can return to form, but the emphasis is on the word “small.” Injuries have derailed his last few seasons, but even when on the ice, Ennis just hasn't seemed like the same player whose quickness and creativity earned him back-to-back 20 goal seasons a few years ago. Part of the problem is that Ennis relied for so long on his speed and quickness to get around slower defenders and create offense, and as he's gotten older and the league has been trending toward more mobile defensemen, he simply can't get past guys on a consistent basis anymore. The stereotypical Enzo shift looks like this: he skates the puck into the offensive zone along the wall, can't get by the defender, stops and spins to look for a pass, but loses the puck. I really, really hope he can find his game again with a change of scenery and a reduced role in Minnesota, because he's a good guy who wants the puck on his stick and was a ton of fun to watch in Buffalo when things were clicking, but after watching him struggle for the past two seasons in Buffalo, I wouldn't bet on it.
Jason Pominville is not a new name around Buffalo being that he was a former captain for the Sabres. Are you excited to have him back and where do you see him fitting into the Sabres line up?
Buffalonians are always excited to see people who left their fair city come back, especially when you say nice things about us (we have something of a complex here [Sounds like any Minnesota sports fan ever].) While we're not excited about his $5.6 million cap hit, I think most Sabres fans are happy to have Pominville back, especially because he still has enough in the tank to bring some offensive punch to the lineup, at least as much as a Foligno or Ennis would, if not more. While I don't think he'll be named captain once again (there's a guy named Jack who might have something to say about that) I see him fulfilling much the same role he had in Minnesota - a solid third line producer who brings leadership to the locker room, and maybe gets a bit more power play time to boot.
Scandella looked to have the makings of a solid NHL top-4 defenseman early on, but has been trending downward the last couple seasons. Is new head coach and Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley the perfect coach for Marco Scandella getting back on track?
While I don't know Scandella's game as well as you or your readers would, I hope it's safe to say that the guy who was in charge of Nashville's elite defensive unit would have at least a marginally positive effect on Scandella (or any other defenseman, for that matter.) Part of the hope in hiring Housley, among other things, was his ability to "coach up" what was one of the league's worst defensive units last year. Of course, that unit will look markedly different next year with the addition of Victor Antipin, Nathan Beaulieu, and now Scandella, so it's hard to say how things will shake out, but Scandella could get the opportunity to play #1 minutes in Buffalo along with Rasmus Ristolainen.
What can you tell us about Marcus Foligno? What can Minnesota Wild fans reasonably expect to see from him?
Marcus Foligno is a classic "heart and soul" kind of player. He brings grit, energy, and toughness to the lineup while adding 10-15 goals along the way. He doesn't have anywhere near the scoring touch of his brother Nick, but he thrives on the garbage goals and creating chaos down low. You're fine if he's on your third line, in great shape if he's on your fourth, and he's never afraid to step up and fight for a teammate. Defenders and certain fans will struggle to avoid getting lost in his dreamy eyes.
Does this trade get Sabres fans excited or are they mostly neutral?
Most Sabres fans are excited about the deal, as Scandella is a solid upgrade to the team's desperately-large weakness, and Foligno and Ennis, while fan favorites, are essentially replaceable parts.
Are there any aspects to this trade that surprised you? Angered or frustrated you?
Honestly, I'm surprised Minnesota didn't get more for Scandella from Buffalo. Especially because the salary dump of Pominville was neutralized a bit by having to take on Tyler Ennis and his overly-large contract.
Are you happy or upset to see Ennis and/or Foligno go?
Like I said before, they're both fan favorites, and ironically, both players were the longest-tenured Sabres player. Double ironically, no player, coach, or GM still exists in the Sabres organization from when Pominville was traded, which started the entire Sabres rebuild all those years ago. We'll miss them, but getting Pominville in return takes a bit of the sting away.
Lastly, who do you believe, at this early date, with the ability to change your mind in the future, won this trade?
Call me a homer all you want, but I think the Sabres handily won this trade. They got the best player in Scandella, and Pominville outscored both Foligno and Ennis combined last season in half as many combined games. Sure, they take on about $2 million of extra salary once it's all said and done, but so far I've seen very few Sabres fans who don't like this deal.
Thanks to Andy and Die by the Blade for their thoughts on the big trade!