Sabres GM Darcy Regier had a plan this weekend: to draft the two best players available for them to take. That ended up being two big defensman as the Sabres took 6'4" 207 lb. Finnish defensman Rasmus Ristolainen out of TPS of the SM-liiga, and 6'5" 230 lb. Russian defensman Nikita Zadorov from the London Knihgts out of the Ontario Hockey League.
"There's good defenseman there's good players," said Regier. "Don't be afraid to load up and get the best players you can."
That seemed to be the philosophy for Buffalo. While the Sabres don't have much in the system in terms of goal scorers or two-way centers, the Sabres took who they believed to be the best players avaiable. Darcy Regier thought the size of the two players selected was important.
"We want to become bigger," said Regier. "We want to be more physical. The game is moving that way right now. Hopefully that will remain consistent when these guys start their NHL careers."
The word before the draft was the Sabres were really trying to get the #5 overall pick from the Carolina Hurricanes. Regier confirmed that they would have liked to get the pick.
"It was fairly close. In the end, the decision was to go this direction," Regier said in reference to trading up to the 5th spot.
In drafting two big defensmen, the Sabres raise question as to whether or not they are happy with their current group of defensmen.
"I suppose it probably gives us options, but that wasn't the intent. It certainly provides some options."
Regier also said he thinks Ristolainen could be ready for the NHL based on his experience in the SM-liiga, a Finnish professional men's league over in Europe, but he doesn't believe Zadorov will be quit ready next season.
The Sabres were expected to make big moves on draft weekend, including Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, two current Sabres who have only one year remaining on their current deals. They weren't traded over the weekend, but Regier expects a market to open up after free agency begins July 5th.