Panthers acquire D Montour from Sabres for pick

The Florida Panthers acquired defenseman Brandon Montour from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2021 third-round pick, the teams announced on Saturday.

Montour, 26, is an offensive-minded right-shot defenseman who could help fill a void with Aaron Ekblad out for 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken leg. The 25-year-old Ekblad was having a Norris Trophy-caliber season for the Panthers at the time of his injury in late March, with 11 goals and 11 assists in 35 games.

“Brandon is a capable and talented right-shot defenseman who will have an immediate impact on our club,” Panthers GM Bill Zito said. “His two-way acumen and ability to play important minutes make him an exciting addition to the Panthers.”

The Panthers are 26-11-4, tied with the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning in points. Florida ranks third in the Central Division behind the Carolina Hurricanes (who have 57 points and two games in hand) and Tampa Bay (56 points, one game in hand).

Montour is in the last year of a contract that pays him $3.85 million annually. He was acquired by the Sabres at the 2019 trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks. Montour has five goals and nine assists in 38 games this season for Buffalo. His most productive NHL season was in 2017-18, with 32 points in 80 games for Anaheim.

Montour is the third Sabre traded ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline. Goalie Jonas Johansson was sent to Colorado, while center Eric Staal was traded to Montreal. Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams may not be done yet. Winger Taylor Hall, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Sabres last offseason, is expected to be moved as well.

The Sabres now hold nine draft picks in 2021, including two in the third round.

The Sabres have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments this season. After enduring an 18-game winless streak, the longest of the salary-cap era, and firing coach Ralph Krueger in March, Buffalo is poised to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. It is the NHL’s longest postseason drought.