The Bills’ scouts headed into the NFL Draft with the feeling it could be their last in Buffalo. Sure enough, they got fired along with General Manager Doug Whaley.
The Sabres’ scouts should feel more confident despite the team’s regime change. The turnover typically isn’t as severe.
Of the 20 employees remaining on the Sabres’ scouting staff, 13 worked for Buffalo before Tim Murray arrived. While the next general manager will certainly want to bring his own people aboard, it’s unlikely there will be a complete overhaul like the football team.
After Murray assumed the general manager title from Darcy Regier in January 2014, the scouting department barely changed. Murray added one person while four departed, according to the Sabres’ media guides for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
The employees who worked for the last two GMs include Kevin Devine, the director of player personnel; Graham Beamish, the pro scouting coordinator; pro scouts Jon Christiano, John Van Boxmeer and Jim Kovachik; Austin Dunne, the amateur scouting coordinator; and amateur scouts Yuri Khmylev, Paul Merritt, Eric Weissman, Teemu Numminen, Norm Poisson, Keith Hendrickson and Brandon Jay.
Jerry Forton, the Sabres’ assistant director of scouting, was with Buffalo prior to Murray as an assistant coach. He has steadily risen up the scouting department under the former GM.
The biggest changes under a new general manager will come at the top. Buffalo has already let go of Rob Murphy, the director of scouting, and Greg Royce, the director of amateur scouting. Murray hired both.
The departed GM also brought aboard Anders Forsberg, the director of European scouting; Jeff Crisp, the head amateur scout; and Seamus Kotyk, who serves as an amateur scout and roving goalie coach.
After firing Murray, Sabres owner Terry Pegula said Crisp is in charge with help from others. This is Crisp’s first season in Buffalo. He spent 14 years in Anaheim and was hired while Murray was with the Ducks.
The next GM will rely on the Sabres’ scouts immediately. They typically gather in mid-May for organizational meetings and to finalize their draft lists. The NHL Scouting Combine is May 28 to June 3 in Buffalo, and the NHL Draft is June 23-24 in Chicago.
The new GM will need the scouts’ input heading into the events.