February 27, 2008 -- The Buffalo Sabres knew they would have trouble re-signing defenseman Brian Campbell when his contract expired in the summer of 2008. The decision was: should they keep him through the end of the season and possibly get nothing for him, or trade him before the deadline?
The latter alternative won. Campbell, the subject of high hopes as an offensive defenseman, was traded to the San Jose Sharks. In return, the Sabres received forward Steve Bernier and a first-round pick.
The problem regarding Campbell was contractual. He was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2007-08 season. For an organization that had lost some players without getting anything in return, allowing another to walk away made little sense.
"You recognize that if you allow everyone to go to the unrestricted free agent market, and I'm not blaming anyone here, your draft cannot support the makeup of your hockey club," General Manager Darcy Regier told The News' John Vogl. "Subsequently, in the best interest of the club, you have to get something back. Otherwise, you won't have enough players and you won't have enough quality."
Campbell eventually moved from San Jose to Chicago, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2010.
--- Budd Bailey