Sabres fans attending this year’s NHL Draft in Buffalo will have 12 opportunities to welcome a prospect to the organization. As of now, anyway.
The Sabres’ draft picture cleared up some Wednesday night when Nashville eliminated Anaheim from the playoffs. The Sabres sent forward Jamie McGinn to the Ducks in February in exchange for a conditional pick. The pick became a 2016 third-round selection because Anaheim failed to win two playoff rounds while using McGinn in at least 50 percent of its games. Had the conditions been met, the Sabres would have received a second-round pick in 2017.
The added pick gives Buffalo a dozen to use June 24-25 in First Niagara Center. The Sabres have one pick in the first, second, fourth and sixth rounds. They have four in the third round after previously acquiring selections in the trades that sent Ryan Miller to St. Louis and Jhonas Enroth to Dallas. Buffalo has two picks in the fifth and seventh rounds after trades with Montreal that sent Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell to the Canadiens.
The Sabres, slated to pick eighth overall in the first round, will learn Saturday night at the NHL Draft Lottery if they’ll move up or down. The first three selections will be determined via lottery, and Buffalo can move into the top three or as low as 11th if teams behind them win the lottery. The event will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on NBC.
It’s unlikely Buffalo will keep all 12 of its picks. General Manager Tim Murray has shown a fondness for draft-day trades, plus making that many selections in one year can cause future contract problems in both number of deals and money needed to sign everyone.
Murray said earlier this month he will likely keep his first-round pick so fans can welcome the prospect to the stage.
“This is a passionate fan base that has put up with quite a bit in the last couple years, which we all acknowledge,” Murray said. “I think that would mean a lot for the fan base. There’s no question. If it’s better for the hockey club to trade that pick for a good young player that can help us get in the playoffs next year, I would do that.
“But in saying that, I would really like to have a first-round pick for the fans. They can cheer the pick. They can boo me if they want when we go up there. Whatever they want to do, it’s all good, but I think fans will be excited. They’re excited about the draft, but they get really excited about a first-round pick.”