The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been too guarded about the upcoming NHL Draft. Armed with a pair of 1sts, a pair of 2nds, and a need to make big changes, the franchise is openly talking about moving up. Wednesday morning we learned that they'd like to move all the way up.
A few weeks ago, heading into the NFL Draft, Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix indicated that the Bills would “love” to trade down. I took that statement to be an indicator that the team already had a deal in place, contingent on a specific player (in this case Tavon Austin) being available for the trade partner (ultimately the Rams).
It’s my belief that Nix let that information out because he knew he had it in the bag. You don’t tell someone what you’d love to do, unless you think you can get it done.
Trading up is obviously the harder part, but the more they talk about it, the more likely I think it is.
*(This is where the commenters go to the bottom of the page and tell us all tha Darcy could never get it done. Ok...moving on)
The Buffalo Sabres are also sending a clear message about what they’d love to do. General Manager Darcy Regier has said several times on WGR that the franchise would like to move up in the draft. He’s frequently mentioned that one undeniable way to get top players is to be picking at the top of the draft, in some cases because you’ve had a terrible season. He’s cited Pittsburgh and Chicago picking at the top of the draft as primary reasons (with which I happen to agree) for their success.
Wednesday morning Buffalo Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine painted an even clearer picture.
“We have had conversations with Colorado... I think it’s how far they want to move back. And you take the situation in Colorado and where there’s a new regime in there with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. I don’t think Patrick came in there with the idea of a long rebuild. So I think they might be willing to listen to a few things.”
Devine spoke about the 8th and 16th picks as spots to get two good players if there is not a trade to be had. With 18 days until the names get pulled off the board, it’ll most certainly be a back and forth between the Avalanche, and the other teams gunning for that first overall pick.
Devine said, “I think they’re trying to figure out themselves what’s happening there. I believe they’re having internal meetings there this week and we’ll probably get back to them at some point. We’re waiting for a call back to find out what their position is.”
Everyone wants to trade up, right? Who wouldn’t want to pick sooner? That’s only half of the issue though. This draft could be the one where a team might want to trade down. Why?
“I really do believe that compared in the last 10 years it is one of the best drafts. The top of the draft is real good. The best part of it is that it extends to 25. The depth of the draft is really good. With it being a deep draft and there being all kinds of different options with different kinds of players.. defense, gritty forwards, skilled forwards, there’s all kinds of options.”
The Sabres have had conversations with every team picking ahead of them. Perhaps they’re thinking about going to #1. Perhaps they’re weighing the cost of going to #1 against the cost of going to #3.
So how creative can Darcy Regier be? That could be what it comes down to. I asked Devine about the potential for a Brian Burke scenario where you trade, to trade, to trade, etc...
“That was the basis of our meetings over the past week and a lot of the conversation over two days. What would it take to get this pick? What would it take to get that pick? Is that going to be something we’re willing to do? The preliminary talks are that everybody’s talking about our young players to move up. So we’ve got to decide if it makes sense to move some of those players to move up? So it’s a difficult conversation, but if you’re really honed in on one guy and he can be a franchise changer then you have to look at it.”
Tick, tick, tick.
June 30th can’t come fast enough.
Other Highlights from Kevin Devine:
On team needs:
Really looking at all areas. Before we were defensive-laden with our prospects. I think with the exception of goaltender, which is kind of up in the air with a moment, we have a lot of holes to fill on both sides.
On drafting a goaltender early:
They're tricky. In a lot of instances you draft a goaltender in the 1st round...he's a much different player the next year. It takes so long to develop goaltenders. Our policy in the past has been 'be careful drafting goaltenders in the first round'.
How they grade:
We use dropoff points. I think there are three of them in the top 10. After that I think from 10-25 you may get the same player at 25 that you do at 10.