So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance/Trade For Carter Hart
The Sabres odds to make the playoffs currently sit around 2% following losses in five out their last six games.
The realistic perspective is that the team is all but cooked at this point. The optimist might say that with the return of Alex Tuch to the lineup, and with Rasmus Dahlin still in the lineup after an injury scare, the team could still go on a mini heater and make the dance.
Is it likely? No.
There is still a chance, though, and until they’re mathematically eliminated from contention, there’s no point wallowing in playoff-less misery. There will be plenty of time later to roll around in the muck if-and-when they do indeed miss the playoffs for an NHL record 12th time in a row. “WHY HAVE THE HOCKEY GODS FORSAKEN US?” we will yell into the void, and the hockey gods will reply: “skill issue. git gud” and then we will all argue about whether faceoffs matter for the next six months before training camp opens and the Sabres still have the same roster.
In the meantime, it’s game night against the Maple Leafs in Toronto as the Sabres will look to avenge their February 21st loss at “home” when the team from Buffalo lost 6-3. The Leafs have subsequently added another former Sabre since then: Jake McCabe. McCabe came aboard via trade from the Blackhawks and he – like Ryan O’Reilly – is a very nice piece for a Leafs squad that is seeking more balance from a defensive perspective.
The Wisconsin native played parts of seven seasons in Buffalo before signing with Chicago, where he resided in the offseason during his tenure with the Sabres.
On the Sabres side, both Tuch and Dahlin appear to be ready to go for this game after some injury worries. It appears that Victor Olofsson will be the pressbox victim to allow Tuch to draw back into the lineup. The oldest man in the NHL figures to be between the pipes for the youngest team in the NHL.
Elliotte Friedman, in his weekly 32 Thoughts podcast, speculated that Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart may be moved this summer.
"I think you're bang on with Carter Hart, "Friedman told co-host Jeff Marek. "You talked about him on Saturday night, and I think he's going to be available."
Hart, 24, has one year left on his contract after this one which will pay him approximately $3.9m against the cap, according to CapFriendly. Hart broke into the league at the extremely young age of 20, back in 2018-19 and he posted a stellar save percentage of .917 in 31 games. He then produced a terrific sophomore season with a .914 save percentage in 43 games before hitting a rough patch the next two years that resulted in a pair of sub-.900 seasons. He’s rebounded during the latest two seasons and posted back-to-back league average save percentage years while playing on two pretty bad Philadelphia squads.
The Sabres should absolutely be interested in acquiring the Albertan if new General Manager Danny Briere is indeed entertaining offers. Hart has a goals-saved-above-expected of 9.25, contrasted with Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen whose same stat shows a -6.25. In goals saved above average, its -11.5 for UPL and +1.09 for Carter Hart.
Hart very well may be only an average goaltender – and that’s fine – because the Sabres are dying for some good ol’ fashioned league average goaltending while they wait for young phenom Devon Levi to come aboard, which could be as soon as next week, if his Northeastern squad isn’t selected for an at-large bid this Sunday.
The basis for a trade package could look something like this: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Flyers 2023 2nd round pick and a B prospect (maybe one of the Russian forwards) for Carter Hart. The Flyers receive an NHL goalie with some upside, and some future draft capital/prospect futures for Hart. The Sabres get a more stable NHL goalie to pair with hopefully not Eric Comrie next year.
Maybe the Flyers would want one of the Sabres young forward prospects instead of UPL, as Philadelphia does have some young goaltenders in the organization, and if that’s the case, the Sabres could offer Isak Rosen or Noah Ostlund instead. Both are first-round talents and very well may be worth more than UPL in a trade package.
The Sabres have to do something for next year while they try to groom Devon Levi into the next Ryan Miller. It would be an absolute mistake to think that he can jump right into the NHL, even if, in some weird bit of cosmic irony, Carter Hart essentially did just that in the Philadelphia organization. Hart famously only played 18 games in the AHL after his junior career before hitting the majors full time, but that doesn’t mean that the Sabres should try to do the same thing with Devon Levi.
Will the Sabres actually make a move in goal?
Almost certainly not. Patience is the key, we will be told, and then we can all yell into the void some more.