We knew the firesale would come, but the Buffalo Sabres got a jump on the trade deadline, sending veteran forward Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens for third and fifth-round selections in the 2021 NHL Draft. Additionally, the Sabres will be retaining $1.625 million of Staal’s salary in the deal. For Montreal, the trade bolsters their offensive depth, giving them a flexible option to slot in up-and-down the lineup. As for Buffalo, expect this to be the first of many trades in the coming weeks.

Staal is in the midst of arguably his least productive NHL season at age 36. He has recorded ten points in 32 games, putting him in danger of finishing with his career’s lowest point total. The lack of production stems from the Sabres’ inability to generate anything offensively, culminating in this 16-game losing streak. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native, will now join a Canadiens group clinging to the Scotia North Division’s fourth spot.

Staal has amassed 1,272 career games played, registering 439 goals, 592 assists, and 1,031 points over that span. The Canadian government is expected to trim the quarantine period from 14 to seven days for the NHL’s trade deadline, but this move appears to have beaten that approval. Nonetheless, Marc Bergevin’s acquisition of Eric Staal certainly gives the Canadiens some extra firepower for the stretch run.