According to Pierre Lebrun of ESPN, the Buffalo Sabres are willing to listen to trade offers on forward Tyler Ennis. Trading Ennis would be a mistake by general manager Tim Murray.
The Sabres have had a problem scoring this season, and Ennis has not been helping that issue very much. He has had an injury riddled season, playing in just 23 games to this point. In those 23 games, Ennis has 11 points. His 11 points is around the same point pace he has had over the past two seasons of 46 and 43 points. Ennis is not having a great year, but he has been banged up all season.
We've seen the talent Tyler Ennis has. While many like to criticize him for turning the puck over, he really doesn't all that often. Last season Ennis ranked 11th on the team in giveaways per game. The year before that Ennis ranked 10th on the team in giveaways per game, and the year before that he was 10th on the team as well. Ennis actually has more takeaways in his career then he does giveaways. So the flaw that most fans and media like to point out in him, is actually incorrect.
Ennis has a $4.6 million cap hit. That isn't a huge number by today's standards. He is under contract until the 2019-20 season. It's likely the cap will go up by that time, making the $4.6 million even more manageable. The cap hit doesn't kill you. The comparisons to Matt Moulson this season are unfair to him, considering he has one fewer point then Moulson in 19 less games. It's not a similar situation. Ennis is a productive player, that has slumped a little bit this season. Ennis is 26 years old. He's not an aging veteran, he's an offensive player in the prime of his career. On a team that needs scoring, his absence is more of a hamper to the team then anything else. Trading him will not help.
What kind of value can the Sabres get for Ennis? He's a former 1st round pick, and he's proven he can produce offensively having 223 points in 368 career NHL games. Tim Murray said this recently:
“I do stress that we think we’ve improved greatly everywhere but in the standings. This is the process. If I can acquire younger assets or future assets for some of our veterans, especially veterans on expiring contracts, I’m going to pursue that for sure.”
So, Murray wants younger assets. Trading Ennis likely will garner you a young prospect and a 2nd round pick. A deal in my head that fits that description is Kerby Rychel and a 2nd round pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rychel was the 19th overall pick in 2013, and requested a trade from the Blue Jackets organization a few months back. He is 21 years old, and has 7 points in 18 career NHL games. This year in the AHL he has 20 points in 21 games. This is the type of player Murray could get back for Ennis, but not straight up. The 2nd round pick would equalize the value.
Ennis is an offensive talent, with the upside of 60-70 points on a great team. If this team takes off like it's projected to in 2 or 3 years, Ennis could certainly be that player. Think Maxim Afinogenov during the playoff years. People like to compare Ennis to Afinogenov as an insult, but if he does what Max did on great teams, Ennis would be a great player. In the 2005-06 season, Afinogenov had 73 points in 77 games, that led the team on the season. In the 2006-07 season, Afinogenov had 61 points in 56 games. And Ennis is a better defensive player then Max ever was. I would not trade Ennis for anything less then a steal in value, if I was Tim Murray.