The Sabres held their organizational scouting meetings last week. There definitely were awkward moments.
New General Manager Jason Botterill didn’t know everyone. Five members of the scouting department have been let go, so others were wondering if they were next.
“There’s nervous people from both ends – myself trying to get to know them, scouts trying to figure out what I’m looking for – but we had some good discussions about that,” Botterill said Tuesday on “The Instigators,” the Sabres’ simulcast show. “It’s certainly going to take some time. I think it’s going to take almost up to a year to really get it all figured out.”
The Sabres’ hockey department is a hodgepodge of people brought in by former GMs Darcy Regier and Tim Murray. Botterill met with the amateur and professional scouts, and he enjoyed the gathering despite the occasional awkwardness.
“The meetings went extremely well,” Botterill said. “I knew some of the people, but you really don’t know how they operate or what their track record is until you get into the system and start reading their reports.
"I thought Jeff Crisp, who ran our amateur meetings, did a great job in that regard."
Crisp, in his first season as the Sabres’ head amateur scout, took charge after two scouting executives went out the door with Murray. The Sabres fired Rob Murphy, the director of scouting, and Greg Royce, the director of amateur scouting. Since their dismissal, Buffalo has also let go of pro scout Jim Kovachik and amateur scouts Keith Hendrickson and Brandon Jay.
Still remaining are Jerry Forton, the assistant director of scouting; Anders Forsberg, the director of European scouting; Kevin Devine, the director of player personnel; Graham Beamish, the pro scouting coordinator; Austin Dunne, the amateur scouting coordinator; plus two pro and nine amateur scouts.
Botterill wants his staff to consist of 12-15 amateur scouts and four or five pro scouts. The GM will also want his own leaders. One might be Randy Sexton.
Sexton is Pittsburgh’s director of amateur scouting and could follow Botterill to Buffalo, longtime hockey reporter Chuck Gormley reported Tuesday. Botterill has permission to bring people from the Penguins, but they must be in a higher role and can’t be a lateral move. Sexton would then be a candidate for overall director of scouting or assistant GM.
Sexton was general manager in Ottawa and Florida before joining the Penguins in 2010. The 57-year-old is in his second season as director of amateur scouting.
As Botterill said, the rebuild of the staff could take a year. The NHL Draft is June 23-24. After meeting with the holdovers, Botterill feels the organization is ready for its eight picks, including No. 8 overall.
“They’ve done the work,” the GM said. “Now it’s just making sure of getting the list right.”