Sabres Summer Trade Target – Yanni Gourde

Two-time Cup winner could provide the right chemistry for young Sabres


The Buffalo Sabres face a season where accountability will be stressed under head coach Lindy Ruff and areas of need will have to be addressed by GM Kevyn Adams for the club to snap their 13-year playoff drought. Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at players who could be potential trade targets this summer in advance of a year that has to be considered playoffs or bust.

The Sabres have a window to make upgrades going into next season, with nearly $23 million in cap space, one of the NHL’s best prospect pools, and all their draft picks. Last summer, Adams was not willing to deal his first-round pick or youngsters such as Matthew Savoie, Jiri Kulich, or Isak Rosen, but now the thought is that the patient developmental approach will be abandoned and that Adams is looking to potentially make a move for a difference-maker who can play in the top six or a center that can provide a different aspect behind Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens.

Yanni Gourde – Center (Seattle Kraken)

Contract status – signed through 2024-25 at $5.166 million AAV

The Sabres added a player with championship pedigree last summer with the signing of Cup winner Erik Johnson on a one-year deal, but while his presence may have helped in the locker room, the 36-year-old could not provide enough on the ice to make a difference. After bolstering their blueline with the addition of Bowen Byram, Buffalo’s main area of need is up front, especially in the middle or bottom six.

Gourde was a diamond in the rough discovered by Steve Yzerman while GM in Tampa. Signed after playing in the ECHL and AHL, the feisty 5’9”, 174 lb. center led Syracuse to a Calder Cup Final in 2017 and made the NHL full-time the following year.

After consecutive 20+ goal seasons, Gourde signed a six-year, $31 million contract with the Lightning, and he served as a key cog on the third line with Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow on Tampa’s consecutive Cup winners in 2020 and 2021.

Left unprotected in the expansion draft, Gourde was claimed by Seattle in 2021. In the Kraken’s debut season, he finished second in scoring with 21 goals, and In his second year, he helped lead them to the playoffs and an upset of the reigning Cup champion Avalanche in seven games.

Last season, the 32-year-old saw his offensive numbers decline to 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 80 games.

With a cap hit of $5.166 million in the final year of his deal, and the Kraken likely beginning a reset after firing head coach Dave Hakstol, GM Ron Francis could be open to moving Gourde for a relatively reasonable price, something that Adams might be interested in instead of moving prime prospects like Savoie or Noah Ostlund for a short-term add. The energetic veteran could be a perfect fit as a center behind Thompson and Cozens and as a primary penalty killer.

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