Buffalo Sabres General Manager Gerry Meehan surprised no one Friday when he said the odds are against Sabres top draft choice Brad May appearing in a Buffalo uniform this year.
The 18-year-old left winger was the 14th player taken overall in last week's draft.
"I don't know if Brad May has the opportunity to play in the NHL next year," Meehan said. "Recent seasons show unless you're a top four or five draft pick, not many players start their careers in the NHL at 18."
Meehan called May "a prototypical, two-way, hard-nosed left winger."
"He satisfies a need for our organization to add depth and quality at left wing, especially with the loss of (Scott) Arniel."
May was acquired with the draft pick Winnipeg sent to Buffalo on draft day.
Meehan also said he has no reason to believe the Soviet player the Sabres drafted will be in Buffalo anytime soon.
Viktor Gordijuk was the Sabres' seventh-round pick, the 142nd overall choice.
"He's 20 years old and he's offensively talented," Meehan said. "He's a guy who we think we have a chance at getting if he develops. But we're not immediately pursuing his availability.
"Everything is in such upheaval right now. You don't know what's happening with their system and institutions."
Gordijuk, a right wing, did not play in the premier Soviet club league last season.
Dale Hawerchuk was criticized at times in Winnipeg for a lack of leadership and a disinterest in defense (although he played well defensively in the '87 Canada Cup).
Sabres coach Rick Dudley said he is not concerned.
"I like the fact Scott Arniel spent an hour and a half before the draft trying to convince me to convince Gerry (Meehan) to get him," he said. "I respect Scott Arniel's opinion as much as any player I've ever coached. It's cruelly ironic that Scott was the guy who went in the trade. He told me what a character guy Dale is and what a quality person he is."
Arniel played with Hawerchuk in Winnipeg before coming to Buffalo.
Hawerchuk said he will let his play speak for itself.
"Sometimes I think there's a gap between the East and West as far as knowing the players," he said. "I'm just going to show my stuff this year. I'll let Joe the Fan decide on that (his defense). I think my game's pretty complete and I'll have the opportunity to prove that."
The loss of Arniel will mean a change in the Sabres penalty killing unit.
Asked if Hawerchuk will step into the unit, Dudley said:
"I have no idea. We've lost Scott Arniel, one of the best, so obviously there is a position there. And we've got Darrin Shannon and Pierre Turgeon. We might go with five or six penalty killers if it appears we're capable of it. Last year we didn't because we decided we wanted (Christian) Ruuttu and Arniel out there a lot of the time."
Asked if he can adjust to the defensive style of play in the Adams Division, Hawerchuk joked: "Gerry (Meehan) brought me here to stay close to (Guy) Carbonneau in the playoffs.
"I'm going to have to make adjustments, for sure. But you always have to adjust to the type of game being played."
Rick Vaive, Turgeon, Mike Foligno, Clint Malarchuk and Uwe Krupp attended the press conference Friday. Daren Puppa is to be married today, and numerous Sabres are in town to attend the wedding.