Since being traded to the Buffalo Sabres by the Anaheim Ducks, Brandon Montour hasn’t exactly met the expectations of Buffalo management and fans.
Often the center of trade talks, it appears as though the organization may have made a determination on his future and are ready to let him move on, seeking employment with another NHL team.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, while speaking on the 31 Thoughts podcast, a conversation about the Edmonton Oilers offseason plans and what might happen with restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou shifted to a quick note about Montour’s situation in Buffalo. The debate out of Edmonton is that the Oilers shouldn’t qualify Athanasiou based on how ineffective he was during his short stint with the team, knowing it will cost them handsomely in a tight salary cap to retain him and try the experiment again next season. That led to Friedman’s comparing his situation with Montour’s.
Friedman said, “You know who I heard is going to be that guy too maybe? Brandon Montour in Buffalo.” Marek responded, “I heard that.”
Why Give Up on Montour?
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like smart asset management to let a player leave for nothing, especially after giving up a first-round pick and prospect Brendan Guhle to acquire said asset. But, like so many teams in the NHL this coming season, money is tight.
Montour’s current two-year contract with a $3,387,500 average annual salary expires this offseason and to keep him, the team will need to pony up a $3,525,000 qualifying offer after a year that wasn’t pretty. In 54 games with the organization, Montour recorded 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists).
So too, Montour has arbitration rights and the change in the arbitration rules make it so that he could be awarded a salary that is beyond what the Sabres are willing to pay. The new rules state that teams can no longer simply walk away from an arbitration award. If the player chooses to accept the money awarded at the hearing, that becomes the new contract.
And, because any team that might trade for him will be in the same position, finding a trade partner could be tricky.
What Other Teams Will Do
Realistically, teams would rather wait for him to shake loose, contact him in free agency and lowball him based on the fact every free agent is likely to have to lower their asking price as money is hard to come by.
That makes sense in a market that will not be kind to a defenseman that had a down year.
So is this it? Is Montour done in Buffalo? It’s not a guarantee, but things aren’t looking so good.
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