We're at one week and counting to the NHL's trade deadline, next Monday at 3 p.m. And while the 14th-place Sabres still harbor playoff hopes standing seven points out, the realistic view on the outside is that the team should be selling, sooner rather than later. There are already plenty of players whose names have churning in the rumor mill.
"It's changed a lot over the years as far as the access to blogs, rumors, Twitter, television tickers on the bottom of the page," said defenseman Jordan Leopold, who has been traded twice at the deadline (Colorado to Calgary and Florida to Pittsburgh). "The whole thing has just evolved into a social media circus. You start reading all that stuff and start believing it, you never know. It's absolutely crazy at that this time of year. As a player, the best thing you can do is not read any of that stuff."
The player with the biggest circus tent over his head right now is center Paul Gaustad, an attractive faceoff man and penalty killer who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Gaustad, who turned 30 earlier this month and is in his seventh year as a regular in the Buffalo lineup, downplayed trade talk after Sunday's win over Pittsburgh and do so again today. He insists his focus continues to be on the team he's with, not some other team he might be playing for next week.
"I've always wanted to be a Sabre and win in Buffalo," Gaustad said. "I've come to grow up here and my adult life has been in Western New York. Winning here is one of my main goals in hockey."
Gaustad, however, is getting more attractive by the day. He's got three goals and seven points in his last 10 games and his line with Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe has been driving opponents' top lines crazy.
"A lot of personal success comes from team success and we've played well as a team," Gaustad said. "When the team plays well, the personal stuff follows."
Click below to hear post-practice audio today from Gaustad and coach Lindy Ruff, who agrees that Gaustad has been playing very well and insists he's lost no belief in his team's ability to make the playoffs.
SCHEDULE NOTE: Be sure to join me here at 3 p.m. for our weekly On The Beat chat. It should be interesting with the deadline looming.