Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres traded Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens for a third and fifth round pick. The Sabres retained 50% of Staal’s contract in the deal in the first significant move ahead of the trade deadline. As the trade unfolded, insiders started to get the lay of the land ahead of the deadline.

The main takeaways were that it’s a buyer’s market, meaning there isn’t much competition at the moment driving up the cost of players. People were shocked the Sabres couldn’t even get a second round pick for a retained Staal. This all puts the Leafs in a friendly position. They’re one of the few teams willing and able to go big at the deadline, and if no one else is ready to compete with them over the phone, acquisitions won’t cost as much in terms of assets.

Looking particularly at one Taylor Hall, many seem to believe his poor top-line numbers and are writing him off as an uninteresting commodity. Meanwhile his underlying numbers to push play offensively and create meaningful chances are fantastic and have been for several years. At the moment, the cost is shockingly low, and even with retention, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams might be able to get a coveted first round pick for him. This is music to the Leafs ears.

On the whole, I don’t have much faith in Adams’ trading ability. He’s only been in the job nine months and has lots of fires burning all around him, including a desolate coaching staff, bare-bones front office, and shadow GM Jack Eichel. Call me a homer, but Dubas has a chance to swindle him, and should.

What this means for the Leafs? Hey, if they can get a Taylor Hall at a fire-sale discount, maybe there’s some appetite to get a second guy, perhaps a defenseman, who wears yellow this season, first name starts with M?

Various Leafs and Branches

The Leafs are facing an alteration to their schedule following an outbreak within the Canadiens roster | by: Annie

Kyle Dubas wants you to know he’s got a winger, his name is Alex, and he doesn’t need to trade for yours | by: Sportsnet

The Oilers really want to beat the Leafs, which is what they said last time | by: NHL dot com

Prospect news: Rodion Amirov is playing junior hockey in Russia following the conclusion of the KHL season. Salavat Yulaev like their prospects and are almost certainly going to keep him until next season. Sorry, no Marlies for our youngest boy.

Gritty quits:

Flyperblog: Gritty Resigns from Flyers in Protest

Wait! A wild Phil appears!