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NHL Draft

Sabres GM was in no lose situation

Tim Murray was in a "no lose" situation as far as I was concerned.  There was almost nothing he could have done during round one of the NHL draft that would have annoyed me.

 I didn't want the Sabres to draft Aaron Ekblad because I think they have a good stable of young prospects along the blue line but if they took Ekblad then Murray could move one of the other players on defense for some offense.

 I was hoping they would take a forward, as I'm sure most of you were, and I didn't really have a strong feeling on any of the top three which is why Murray was in that "no lose" situation. No matter who the Sabres selected, they were going to get a player who should turn out to be a top six forward, something they desperately need.

In assessing Sam Reinhart, there were two things said about the Kootenay Ice center by Sabres brass that stood out.  Murray said the 6-0, 185 pound Reinhart was the smartest player on the ice every time the Sabres GM saw him play.

Assistant GM Kevin Devine said Reinhart was the best play maker he's seen coming out in the last 10-15 years.  The top two men in the Sabres hockey department put a lot of stock in hockey smarts and Reinhart is blessed with more than his fair share.

Reinhart was considered by many to be the best pure passer in the draft but he isn't just a play maker.   He can score as well with 99 goals over the last three years with the Ice in the Western Hockey League and he's a reliable two way player.

The bloodlines are pretty impressive too.  Reinhart's dad Paul played 11 years in the NHL and his two older brothers were also first round draft picks, Max(Calgary 2010) and Griffin(NY Islanders 2012).  The only negatives according to some of the scouting reports are his average size and speed.  Reinhart is not a great skater.

The only time I've seen Reinhart play was during the last World Junior Championship.  I caught as many Team Canada games as possible to watch Connor McDavid but came away very impressed with Reinhart who showed off his on ice vision but also demonstrated a willingness to drive to the net and ended up with numerous scoring chances in every game I watched.

Now we wait and see if Reinhart can play right away.  If you are nervous about that possibility based on what happened with Mikhail Grigorenko, who went from juniors right to the NHL, keep in mind Grigorenko played only 92 games over two years in Quebec before getting drafted.  Reinhart has 203 career regular season games under his belt for Kootenay.

If Reinhart does make the team, he might be wearing the number 23 which was his number in juniors.  I'm sure he will have a much better Sabres career than the last guy who wore that number and perhaps he'll make you think of another number 23 in blue and gold, Chris Drury.

One other note from draft weekend and it has to do with the much anticipated 2015 entry draft.  I was prepared to hurl some serious anger and perhaps some expletives towards the NHL when word came out they had approved changes to the draft lottery format but it isn't as bad as it could've been.

 It appears the chance of the worst team in the league getting the top pick in next year's draft will decrease from 25% to 19 or 20%.  Of course the Sabres could have two picks in the lottery if the Islanders miss out on the playoffs again. 

The key part is the league holding off on a more significant change until 2016 when the top three picks will be up for grabs in the lottery. That means the team with the worst record could drop as low as fourth in the draft. As far as next year is concerned, if the Sabres finish last overall, which is quite likely, they will have a lower percentage chance of winning the lottery but they are 100% guaranteed a spot no lower than second which means they'll get either McDavid or highly touted American prospect Jack Eichel.  Thanks NHL.