NHL News

Should Sabres Trade Okposo and Girgensons?

Zach Benson Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres could make a deal with a divisional rival in the coming weeks. The Hockey News recently reported that the Boston Bruins have expressed interest in both Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons, two-thirds of the Sabres’ on-ice leadership group.

Whether or not anything will come of this, it raises an interesting question: with the Sabres in transition and looking to further incorporate their many young talents, will this season be it for the veteran stalwarts in Buffalo? The 2023-24 campaign was expected to be a big one for the Sabres but has not gone to plan, and it’s safe to assume changes will be coming over the summer. Will the team start by moving on from its two longest-serving players?

Sabres Need Roster Space

The Sabres have an embarrassment of riches in promising young players cultivated over the past few years, and their pipeline is one of the best in the NHL. Conversely, roster space will have to be cleared out to accommodate the up-and-comers, and that’s a predicament management will be facing this offseason. It’s possible that a couple of lower-end players at the end of their contracts will not be retained. There are even rumblings that Casey Mittelstadt won’t be re-signed, and he’s been Buffalo’s best forward this season by a country mile.

A host of injuries opened the door for 2023 first-round pick Zach Benson to permanently join the NHL ranks even though he won’t turn 19 until May, and the Sabres could be planning on moving a few players up the pipeline in the fall. Isak Rosen and Jiri Kulich are the top candidates, and Matthew Savoie isn’t far behind them. To do so, the team will be forced to make cuts, and Okposo and Girgensons would be an unfortunately logical starting point.

Zach Benson’s impressive rookie year will open the door for even more future call-ups. (Evan Sabourin/The Hockey Writers).

It would be difficult for even the most cynical Sabres fans to see either one depart. Girgensons, 30, is the longest-serving member of the team, having joined in 2013, while Okposo, 35, came along three years later. They serve as co-elder statesmen and have guided their numerous young teammates through some very trying times over the years. The loyalty both have shown to Buffalo despite the unending tumult is commendable, and the team is undeniably better off for having them.

While both are invaluable for the intangibles they bring, neither contributes much in terms of offense, and they both serve as fourth-line…

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