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'Sports Talk Sunday' rewind: Bills 'win offseason,' Harrington on NHL Draft

WGRZ's Stu Boyar and Heather Prusak worked in tandem with The News' Jerry Sullivan and Mike Harrington for the season's penultimate episode of "Sports Talk Sunday."

Rex Ryan's bold statement that the "Bills won the offseason" takes center stage, and then Harrington joins the crew in the second segment to preview Friday's NHL Draft in the First Niagara Center.

Here are five talking points from Sunday's show, which aired at 11:30 p.m. June 19 on WGRZ-TV.

1) Reaction to Bills' "winning the offseason": Boyar leads into the segment with video of Rex Ryan's grandiose statement that the Bills had "won the offseason," and Sully reacts by pointing to Rex's agenda; the Bills coach wants fans to think, "Now that the right coaches are in place, the players are responding accordingly." The News columnist wonders what record it would take for the Pegulas to be embarrassed, and 7-9 sounds about right to the crew.

[Sully: June's wins won't help in September]

Homing in on the coaching roles, especially defensively where Rex Ryan will call the plays and Rob Ryan and Dennis Thurman will also be involved, Prusak is annoyed at the vague job descriptions and sees the situation as "too many cooks in the kitchen." Sully adds that Rob Ryan was likely signed as a Rex-driven maneuver that made sure the head coach's brother earned a paycheck.

[Read: Vic Carucci wants Rex Ryan to remain with the Bills | Listen: Most recent "Dunne with Graham" podcast]

2) Stephon Gilmore's contract situation: The threat of a Stephon Gilmore holdout is real, as the Bills' starting corner will make just over $11 million in 2016, the final year of his contract. Sully reveals how Gilmore has been subtly haggling for the comfort of a high-paying, long-term contract through his quotes to the media, often comparing his play to the best at his position.

Sully believes that the Bills want to see Gilmore stay healthy for a full season before they commit, and the columnist predicts that Gilmore will hold out.

[Read: Gilmore details in Carucci's "3 Bills thoughts"]

3) Three players who could be on Sabres' radar: With the NHL Draft approaching on Friday, The News' Mike Harrington sets the scene and names three players that the Sabres may select at No. 8. While it's a foregone conclusion that top prospect Auston Matthews will be taken first overall by the Maple Leafs, Harrington isn't convinced Buffalo will stand pat at its draft slot.

Matthew Tkachuk, son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk, could be a trade-up target, and Sully is impressed by the idea of a power forward, a term he hasn't heard much in his 27 years in Buffalo. Jakob Chychrun, a defenseman for the Sarnia Sting, a team part-owned by the Sabres' David Legwand, could be another candidate, and Harrington knows that the Sabres like him. Olli Juolevi is another name to keep an eye on.

[Road to the Draft profiles on Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi]

Sully briefly goes on a rant about how GM Tim Murray would rather not trade the first-round pick for an established player because he wants the hosting fans to have a chance to enjoy a pick; the columnist argues that moves should never be made just to appease the fans.

4) Pressure on Sabres' GM Tim Murray: Harrington says the Sabres traded many assets to land Ryan O'Reilly, Robin Lehner and Evander Kane last year, so free agency will be Buffalo's best chance for immediate help.

General managers can interview free agents during the draft period, Harrington notes, and while fans will be eager to see what happens with Steven Stamkos, popular former Sabre Brian Campbell, a strong veteran presence on the blue line, could be in the mix. The Islanders' Kyle Okposo is another name the Sabres could pursue, Harrington mentions a bit later. Although Buffalo is not a playoff team now, the Sabres are not far off.

[Read: Spotlight on Sabres as hosts of NHL Draft]

5) Extra points:

*Sully: His Father's Day tribute goes out his dad, Joe Sullivan, who got him into baseball as a kid. Sully remembers going to the baseball diamond in Newport, RI, bordering on where his father worked as a firefighter, and marveling at the talents of older players. His father would feign ignorance when a ball rolled into the fire station, instead keeping it for his son.

*Harrington: While the Sabres should be able to land a stud with their first-rounder, Harrington is more interested in how the team addresses roster construction in the quest to finish off this rebuilding process. He believes the 2016 draft is the most important draft week of Murray's tenure, trumping the Reinhart and Eichel drafts (which were more or less no-brainer picks).

*Boyar: The veteran WGRZ reporter gives his daughters a shout out, then reinforces his annoyance at Rex Ryan's "winning the offseason" statement. The playoffs don't feel any closer now than they have in the past 16 years, he says.

The final "Sports Talk Sunday" of the season will be a full NHL Draft recap at 11:30 p.m. June 26 on WGRZ-TV.

[Read the last "Sports Talk Sunday" recap on Tyrod Taylor, Preston Brown]

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