The Buffalo Sabres have acquired Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2019 fourth-round draft pick.
Condition on draft pick. If Sheary scores 20 goals or 40 pts or Buf trades Hunwick before the '19 draft, it flips to a 3rd round pick. https://t.co/eqe1KYdf09
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 27, 2018
This is a good trade for both teams. The Sabres needed to add a left-winger and the Penguins needed to clear some cap-space. After a breakout campaign in 2017, Sheary struggled to get back to that level in 2018—posting just 18 goals and 12 assists (30 points) in 79 games. Sheary is viewed as a player that rode the coattails of Sidney Crosby but his numbers with and without Crosby were pretty similar last year—52.74 CF% and 50.66 SCF% (with) 51.06 CF% and 52.31 SCF% (without).
Hunwick was a part of the deal as cap-dump for the Penguins and a way for the Sabres to get Sheary at a discounted price. Hunwick had an ugly -4.4 relative Corsi in 42 games last season and projects as a seventh/eighth defenseman for the Sabres.
The Penguins cleared $5.25 million in cap-space with this trade, giving them just over $10 million in projected cap-space heading into July 1. The Penguins have been linked to a potential trade involving Jeff Skinner ($5.725M AAV) and free agents Jack Johnson (predicted $2.594M AAV) and Tyler Bozak (predicted $4.379M AAV).
Sheary is projected to play with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart but the Sabres’ second line still has a potential hole on the left-side. Evan Rodrigues can play in the top-6, but the Sabres have over $18M in cap-space and could target wingers like James van Riemsdyk, Rick Nash or James Neal. The question remains: “Is there mutual interest?” Drafting a franchise defenseman in Rasmus Dahlin to go along with a franchise centre in Eichel and future star in Casey Mittelstadt certainly makes Buffalo a more intriguing free agent destination than it was a few months ago.