The History of Trade is a mini series going through each team’s best and worst trades of all time. Each team has their own history and some may cross over, but the series will try to stick to each team. This article will focus on the Buffalo Sabres trade history, finding the best and worst of all time.
The Sabres are no slouch when it comes to big trades. That’s what 37 years in the NHL will do for you. From their inception in 1970, Buffalo has managed to have their hands on players like Pat LaFontaine, Dominik Hasek, and René Robert. What do those three have in common? Each one was acquired via trade by Buffalo and subsequently shipped off later in their careers. Some of those trades worked out really well for the team for the North East. Some, not so much.
With such big names coming and going for the Buffalo-Niagara region, it is to be expected that the Sabres have their fair share of good trades. Some would argue that acquiring Daniel Briere for Chris Gratton is the best trade in history. Others can argue that stealing René Robert from the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 1972 for Eddie Shack was the best trade for the club. But almost everyone can agree that the Sabres would never have been the same without The Dominator in the crease.
The fourth round pick the Sabres traded away turned into the young Eric Daze. Daze, for his part, was a solid fourth round selection. He finished second in Calder voting his rookie season, losing out to Daniel Alfredsson by just 21 votes. On top of that he managed to put up a rookie leading 30 goals that season. Daze would go on to be a perennial 20-goal scorer in Chicago, also adding three 30-goal seasons to his resume. Daze would only ever play for the Blackhawks, finishing his 11-year career with 398 points.
Beauregard on the other hand never actually played for the Blackhawks in a single game. In fact, he never played a game for Buffalo either. The Winnipeg Jets traded Beauregard to the Sabres in June of 1992 for Christian Ruuttu. After arriving in Chicago in August, Beauregard spent all of three days in the Windy city before grabbing his bags and heading back to Winnipeg for, guess who, Christian Ruuttu. He was later sent to Philadelphia ending the crazy summer of 1992.
Aside from Beauregard’s adventurous summer, the fact that he was the main piece in a trade for Dominik Hasek is baffling to say the least. Prior to moving from Winnipeg, Beauregard had seasons with 3.28, 3.95, and 2.89 goals-against-averages respectively. He never managed to play more than 26 games though, only breaking the 20 win mark the season prior to the trade. After the trade, Stephane’s numbers fell off a cliff. He posted a 4.41 goals-against-average in 1992-93 with Philadelphia. He followed that up with a 4.88 goals-against-average after returning to Winnipeg for his last season.
Just by name alone you could guess how this trade turned out. The Dominator would go on to become one of the most successful goaltenders in the game. His two seasons spent in Chicago gave hints of what he was going to accomplish, which makes the trade even more confusing. In the season before he was traded Hasek posted a 2.60 goals-against-average across 20 games. That season he backed up another future Hall of Famer in Ed Belfour. Chicago decided to stick with the young and talented Belfour and move on from Hasek.
That move would come back to bite them as Hasek’s career would take off in Buffalo. After splitting time equally with Grant Fuhr and Daren Puppa in 1992-93, Hasek become the starter for the Sabres. He took the reigns and ran with them, posting a ridiculous 1.95 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage. He won the Vezina Trophy as well as the Jennings. Hasek even finished the season with the second most votes for the Hart Trophy behind only Sergei Fedorov.
Hasek continued his dominance post .930 save percentage or better in four of the next five seasons. Arguably the best seasons of his career came in 1996-97 and 1997-98 where Hasek posted sub-2.30 goals-against-averages. Hasek managed to not only win his third and fourth Vezina Trophies in five years, he also won the Hart trophy in back-to-back years. He also became the only goaltender in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy twice. Hasek also joined the elite company as being one of only 10 (at the time) back-to-back winners of the trophy.
When Hasek’s Buffalo career came to an end, he had won six Vezina’s across his eight years. He is one of three goaltenders to ever win the Vezina six times, joining Jacques Plante and Bill Durnan. Chicago lost out on some of the best years of Hasek’s career. To this day it goes down as one of the worst trades in NHL history, or the best if you are a Buffalo Sabres fan.
Honourable Mentions: Sabres acquire Daniel Briere and 2004 third round pick (Andrej Sekera) from the Phoenix Coyotes for Chris Gratton and 2004 fourth round pick (later traded to Edmonton – Liam Reddox); Sabres acquire Miroslav Satan from Edmonton for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar; Buffalo trades Eddie Shack to the Pittsburgh Penguins for René Robert.
Buffalo’s best trade is one of the most impressive in league history. Stealing The Dominator from Chicago was bold, but somehow the Sabres had to outdo themselves. They decided to make two truly terrible moves. Buffalo decided to trade Hasek after eight solid years to Detroit for almost nothing. But earlier in their existence they managed to set a new low bar.
Buffalo trades Ray Sheppard to the New York Rangers for future considerations and cash
Ray Sheppard had two solid seasons in Buffalo prior to the trade. In his rookie season Sheppard managed to put up an impressive 38 goals and 27 assists. He finished second in Calder voting that year behind just Joe Nieuwendyk. His second season was a little less successful. Sheppard still posted 22 goals in 67 games, placing him fifth on the team in goals. Unfortunately Sheppard struggled in his third season, only playing 18 games due to an ankle injury.
After the 1989-90 season the Sabres made the trade and moved Sheppard out of town. What they weren’t expecting was Sheppard to go on to post 24 goals the next year. He followed that up with five straight seasons of 30 goals or more, with one season of 52 goals. His 52-goal season put him fifth in the NHL that season in the category.
Sheppard’s career would end after moving a few more times, making stops in San Jose, Florida and Carolina. He never posted fewer than 10 goals in a season, other than his injury-shortened season in Buffalo. Considering the return they received, Buffalo may have made the cheapest deals in history.
For a 50-goal scorer one would assume the Sabres got a king’s ransom. Unfortunately they managed to get almost nothing, literally. The deal was the Rangers get Sheppard in return for future considerations and cash consideration. The future consideration turned into absolutely nothing, no player to be named later was moved to Buffalo. As far as the money was concerned, that was a different story.
The Sabres managed to only get one dollar from the rangers. Yes, a single dollar was exchanged for a player who had already put up 30 goals in a season not once, but five separate times. A single dollar for a player who would go on to score 30 goals in five straight years. It is almost impossible to believe that the Sabres management was fooled into this trade. Along with the Hasek deal, the Sheppard trade could go down as one of the biggest surprises in team history.
Dishonourable Mentions: Sabres trade Dominik Hasek to the Detroit Red Wings for Vyacheslav Kozlov and the 2002 first round pick (Jim Slater); Buffalo trades Vyacheslav Kozlov to the Atlanta Thrashers with a 2003 second round pick (Joakim Lindstrom) for Atlanta’s second round pick in 2003 (Jeff Deslauriers) and Vancouver’s third round pick in 2003 (John Adams); Sabres trade Dave Andreychuk, Daren Puppa and their first round pick in 1993 (Kenny Jonsson) to Toronto for Grant Fuhr and Toronto’s fifth round pick in 1995 (Kevin Popp); Buffalo trades Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and Buffalo’s first round pick in 1990 (Keith Tkachuk) to Winnipeg for Dale Hawerchuk and Winnipeg’s first round pick in 1990 (Brad May)