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Names added, removed as Sabres' hiring search heats up

The Sabres never got a chance to interview Chris Drury. So far, they don’t want to talk to Dean Lombardi. One of his advisers, however, is back on Buffalo’s list.

The Sabres’ search for leaders of their hockey department is in full swing.

Buffalo asked the New York Rangers if it could talk to Drury, but the Rangers declined to make the former Sabres co-captain available. Drury is in his first season as New York’s assistant general manager after serving as the director of player development last year.

The 40-year-old is quickly making a name off the ice. Drury is also on USA Hockey’s management team for its world championship squad.

Buffalo is not believed to have asked the Rangers for permission to speak with Jim Schoenfeld. The former Sabres coach and defenseman is New York’s senior vice president and assistant GM, and he is also the general manager of the Rangers’ minor-league team.

The Sabres are interviewing a longtime Los Angeles executive, but it’s not the one at the top of some lists.

The team has not requested an interview with Lombardi, a Kings spokesman told The Buffalo News on Friday. Lombardi won the Stanley Cup twice during his 11-year run as GM in Los Angeles, hoisting the trophy in 2012 and 2014. He was fired this month after missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Buffalo is again talking with Kings Assistant GM Michael Futa. The 49-year-old was a candidate during the Sabres’ last GM search, but the job went to Tim Murray in January 2014. The Sabres fired Murray and coach Dan Bylsma last week.

Mike Futa is a Toronto native who splits his time between Los Angeles and Canada. (Getty Images)

Futa has been with the Kings for 10 seasons. He spent the last three as the vice president of hockey operations and director of personnel. The Kings promoted him to assistant GM after the Lombardi firing.

Los Angeles hired Futa as its director of amateur scouting in 2007. Prior to the job, he was the general manager for Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League. His five-season run included OHL Executive of the Year honors in 2005.

The Sabres have approached two Pittsburgh executives, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. They have talked with Associate GM Jason Botterill and Assistant GM Bill Guerin.

Botterill is in his 10th season with the Penguins and helped build the 2009 and 2016 championship teams. The 40-year-old, who is in his third year as associate GM, spent parts of three seasons as a player in the Sabres’ organization in the early 2000s.

Guerin has been assistant GM for three years and serves as a liaison between players and management. Sabres owner Terry Pegula said he wants to improve communication within the organization.

Kim Pegula said Wednesday the search will continue next week.

Murray’s firing could impact the Sabres’ moves for the expansion draft. He had talks with Las Vegas GM George McPhee about who the Sabres didn’t want to lose and how to make that happen. McPhee has confirmed to the Associated Press he had “productive talks” with Murray, but no deal was finalized. McPhee said he’d reach out to Murray’s replacement once one is in place.

McPhee is talking with many teams about the June expansion draft. Each team will lose one player as the NHL welcomes and stocks its 31st organization.

"If they want to give us draft picks to encourage us to take a certain player or leave another player alone, we're open-minded and we're going to listen to everyone," McPhee told the AP. "You usually build your team, historically, through the entry draft, so we'd certainly be interested in acquiring picks."

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