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Canadiens Ideal Partner Help Buffalo Sabres Solve Goalie Logjam

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Montreal Canadiens

The Buffalo Sabres might be looking to move a goalie before the NHL Trade Deadline, and the Montreal Canadiens make for a logical trade partner.

On a recent 32 Thoughts podcast episode, NHL Insider Jeff Marek pointed out that there may be a goaltending prospect available soon, as Buffalo Sabres prospect Erik Portillo may be looking to sign elsewhere, due to the logjam in net right now.

“It sounds as if Erik Portillo, who’s a 3rd-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres; doesn’t sound like Buffalo is going to be able to sign him,” said Marek regarding the logjam at goaltending in Buffalo. “It sounds like he’s going to explore free agency at the end of the season. It looks like he’s seriously considering those options.”

Currently playing at the University of Michigan, Portillo has been one of the top goaltenders in the NCAA since he started up with the Wolverines, notwithstanding a small dip in performance of late due to Michigan undergoing a massive roster turnover this season.

Despite being a legitimate prospect in his own right, the young Swede has to contend with a lot of competition in the Sabres’ organizational depth chart.

Competing against the likes of Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Eric Comrie, there simply isn’t much room for Portillo in the Sabres’ future, which is why it’s looking like he may opt to become a free agent.

However, according to Marek, the Sabres may look to trade his rights at the NHL Trade Deadline in order to recoup some value for the 22-year-old goaltender.

“I’ve been wondering about that for a while. They have Luukonen, they go out and grab Comrie and they also have Devon Levi. There are all these goaltenders in front of Erik Portillo,” said Marek. “If you’re Portillo right now, you’re wondering how far down the depth chart I am and the Sabres just signed Comrie for two years. I think all of that in concert will lead to this decision (moving Portillo at the deadline). It’s one of those things to watch.

Portillo would be an interesting gamble, should general manager Kent Hughes decide to strike on a potential “buy low” kind of deal, as Portillo would have ample opportunity in Montreal’s system to grow and prove he could be a top-end starter in the NHL down the line.

For the Montreal Canadiens, it buys them an extra year to decide what to do with Jakub Dobes, who has also impressed in the NCAA, but has another two years of eligibility before needing to be signed.

If a deal cannot be worked out with the Sabres, it makes sense to expect the Canadiens, who have had discussions with the Sabres in the past regarding their goaltending, to circle back on Portillo to see if there’s any interest to join the club.

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Maxman

Dobes, it’s funny, all these goaltenders were picked to be the ones to watch ahead of him, but he’s been consistent, two years straight now, and he’s continuing to climb amongst the top NCAA goaltenders. I think he’s going to play one more year at Ohio

Dave

The Sabres should trade him to Chicago so that he can do ads for Portillo’s restaurants. 😜

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