I don't care who ends up being the Sabres' new general manager. I've got the same message to all of them: Trade your first-round pick for an NHL-level defenseman.
As usual, the Sabres didn't have any lottery luck Saturday and were shipped back to the No. 8 slot by the time the draw was done. That's where they took Alex Nylander last year and Rasmus Ristolainen in 2013 and it's where they would again get a good future prospect. But even with a new GM and coach on the horizon, there better not be a lot of down-the-road and let's-be-patient thinking preached for a team that hasn't won a playoff series since 2007.
Winning next year has to be an immediate priority and improving the blueline is paramount. Brendan Guhle will help. KHL defenseman Viktor Antipin will be an upgrade, assuming the Sabres close the deal on him. Putting the No. 8 pick in some sort of package with a defense-rich team like Anaheim or Minnesota, neither of which will be able to protect its entire back end in the expansion draft, is the obvious first move at hand and an immediate test for the man who claims Tim Murray’s old chair.