Despite being a young team with weak goaltending and a shallower roster, the Buffalo Sabres finished just (just) outside of a playoff spot. The Florida Panthers and New York Islanders finished with 92 and 93 points, respectively, and the Sabres missed out on a playoff spot with 91. With Devon Levi now in the fold and with youngsters like Jack Quinn, J.J. Peterka, Casey Mittelstadt, and Dylan Cozens all taking steps forward, the Buffalo Sabres are in a position to make some serious noise in 2023. However, Ilya Lyubushkin, Kyle Okposo, Jeff Skinner, and Zemgus Girgensons are the only skaters they had over the age of 28. Girgensons is hitting unrestricted free agency, so the Sabres might feel inclined to upgrade and add a veteran from elsewhere.
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, and even after narrowly missing the playoffs this year, the Sabres have a roster built for long-term, sustained success. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen isn’t an NHL starter, but he doesn’t have to be in Philadelphia. Carter Hart gives the Sabres a stable and reliable goalie with a little more seasoning to pair with Devon Levi. Jiri Kulich is a promising Czech forward drafted 28th overall in the 2022 draft, and the Flyers also manage to add another first-round selection in the 2023 draft.
The price might seem steep for the Sabres, but they still have players like Matthew Savoie, Noah Ostlund, Prokhor Poltapov, and Isak Rosen in their pipeline that they can add to their roster in the near future, making the 13th overall pick expendable and available for Daniel Briere to negotiate for. As seen with Cal Petersen, stable and consistent goaltending is hard to come by in the NHL, and Briere knows what he has in Carter Hart. Scott Laughton gives the Sabres a veteran left wing who is positionally flexible, fundamentally sound, and a hard worker as well as an adequate point producer. Laughton would slot right into the Sabres’ top-nine and bump the ineffective Jordan Greenway down to the fourth line. This is a move that would benefit both teams in the current contexts of their situations.