The Buffalo Sabres shook the hockey world by trading a conditional 5th round pick to the rebuilding New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Wayne Simmonds. The Devils will retain 50% of Simmonds’ salary, and the 5th round pick will become a 4th if Simmonds plays in ten of Buffalo’s remaining regular-season games and if Buffalo qualifies for the 2020 playoffs.
Simmonds will add a physical presence to the Sabres group as they attempt to make an unlikely playoff push late in the season. Currently, the Sabres are 29-26-8 for 66 points in 63 games, which puts them ten points out of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. That spot is currently held by the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Sabres have two games in hand on them. They trail the Toronto Maple Leafs who currently holds the 3rd spot in the Atlantic Division by eight points and have a game in hand on them as well. Buffalo is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and will look to continue their hot streak against the Vegas Golden Knights tomorrow night at 10pm Eastern time.
In the 11 years of data we have on Wayne Simmonds, he has a career AB score of -0.96. However, Simmonds has registered negative AB seasons in six of his last seven years. His penalty taken/drawn ratio is 15:9, and his giveaway/takeaway ratio is an impressive 17:24. He was tied for 2nd on the Devils with a -17 +/- number trailing only Jack Hughes. Simmonds had 8 goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 61 games with the Devils this season. At 31-years old, Simmonds makes $5 million for the remainder of this season, with again, the Devils retaining 50% of that cap hit in this trade. Under the two Devils coaches this season, Simmonds is averaging almost a minute less per game of ice time. We expect his ice time to increase in Buffalo, as he is on the 2nd line centered by Marcus Johansson, and with Jeff Skinner on his opposite wing.
In his Sabres debut last night against the Colorado Avalanche, Wayne Simmonds played just shy of 13 minutes, and registered one shot on goal. He did throw three hits, however, and took the puck away one time. Buffalo would go on to lose the game 3-2 and fail to gain any ground in the tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. It will definitely be interesting to see how the rest of the East playoff race shakes up, and whether or not the Buffalo Sabres make a seemingly improbable run to the playoffs in the final month of the 2019-2020 regular season. More to come.