The Vancouver Canucks have traded defenseman Riley Stillman to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for prospect Josh Bloom.
GM Patrik Allvin announced today that the Vancouver Canucks have acquired F Josh Bloom from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for D Riley Stillman. pic.twitter.com/AyQErYw9Wo
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 27, 2023
The Canucks are clear sellers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, and players like Brock Boeser and Luke Schenn have been talked about often in the rumor mill because of it. Stillman was not necessarily viewed as a major trade target from Vancouver, but alas, he will now provide the Sabres with more defensive depth as they aim to earn themselves a playoff spot.
Sabres Add to Defensive Depth With Stillman
Stillman may not be a star, but he will now give the Sabres another NHL-caliber defenseman to work with. The 24-year-old has had a fairly quiet season for the most part, as he has five assists to go along with a minus-14 rating in 32 games played.
One strong element about Stillman’s game is that he can play both the left side and the right side. When noting that the Sabres do not possess the strongest defensive group, this should open the door for him to receive regular minutes. When looking for a specific spot for him, it is fair to argue that he could take over Kale Clague’s spot on the second pairing with Mattias Samuelsson. Yet, he also is a candidate for third-pairing minutes with one of Ilya Lyubushkin or Jacob Bryson.
An important note about this trade is that Stillman is more than a rental for Buffalo. This is because he carries a $1.35 million cap hit until the end of next season and will be a restricted free agent (RFA) when it expires. Therefore, if he performs well with the Sabres after this move, he could be around even longer after his current contract is over. Yet, at a minimum, he will serve as a depth defenseman for them moving forward.
Canucks Land Solid Prospect for Stillman
Stillman had some trade value because of his RFA status, and the Canucks took advantage of that by landing a solid prospect in Bloom. The 2021 third-round pick is having a strong season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), as he has 26 goals and 58 points in 59 games. That is certainly solid production from the 6-foot-2 left winger, so the Canucks must be happy to now have him in their prospect pool.
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The Canucks are embarking on a serious retooling period, so they should be adding as many promising prospects as possible, and they have started that process by landing Bloom. However, although he is showing promise in junior, he will need a few years to make the jump to the NHL.
If all goes well with Bloom’s development, there is reason to believe that he could blossom into a third-line forward at the NHL level. Therefore, acquiring him has the potential to benefit the Canucks well later down the road. Stillman was struggling with Vancouver, but they still managed to do well with this return for them.
Nevertheless, this is a trade that looks solid for both teams on paper. The Sabres have added a defenseman with NHL experience who should help strengthen the left side of their defensive group. Meanwhile, the Canucks have acquired a promising prospect in Bloom who has the potential to be an effective NHL player for them in time.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.