So how likely is it the Buffalo Sabres will be able to trade up into a top five slot for Sunday's draft? If recent history is any indication, the answer is not likely.
Only once in the last eight drafts has a club traded out of one of those top five spots. In 2008, the New York Islanders moved from five down to seven and down once again to nine where they selected Josh Bailey. Toronto traded into the fifth spot and selected Luke Schenn.
In 2010 Toronto would have had the second overall pick but they moved their first round choice to Boston as part of the Phil Kessel deal the previous September. The Bruins used the pick to get Tyler Seguin.
Trades involving a pick in the top five were routine prior to the full season lockout of 2004-2005. The collective bargaining agreement that came out of that work stoppage led to teams placing more value on the draft and using their picks to build a foundation.
There was a deal involving a top five pick at least once every year from 1996 through 2004, a span of nine years. The following is a recap of the teams that moved up, what pick they traded up into and who they selected: 1996 Washington-4 (from Los Angeles) Alexandre Volkov 1997 NY Islanders-4(Toronto) Roberto Luongo 1998 Tampa Bay-1 (Florida via San Jose) Vincent Lecavalier 1998 Nashville-2 (Tampa Bay via San Jose) David Legwand 1998 San Jose-3 (Nashville) Brad Stuart 1999 Atlanta-1 (Tampa via Vancouver) Patrick Stefan 1999 Vancouver-2 (Atlanta) Daniel Sedin 1999 NY Rangers-4 (Chicago via Vancouver and Tampa) Pavel Brendl 2000 NY Islanders-5 (Tampa) Raffi Torres 2001 Ottawa-2 (NY Islanders) Jason Spezza 2002 Columbus-1 (Florida) Rick Nash2002 Florida-3 (Columbus) Jay Bouwmeester 2002 Philadelphia-4 (Tampa) Joni Pitkannen 2003 Pittsburgh-1 (Florida) Marc-Andre Fleury 2003 Florida-3 (Pittsburgh) Nathan Horton 2004 Carolina-4 (Columbus) Andrew Ladd
Ideally the Sabres trade up into one of the top three slots in this draft for the chance to select one of the supposed franchise changing players available. Over the last 20 drafts, a team has traded out of a top three spot on eight occasions but it hasn't happened since 2003.