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Sabres' Botterill 'looking to improve the team' at talkative draft

CHICAGO – Jason Botterill’s first draft week as a general manager has included plenty of discussions. He’s waiting to find out where they lead.

“It’s a situation where there’s always discussions going on, but to say that we’re close on anything right now, no,” the Sabres’ GM told The Buffalo News on Thursday night. “There’s longer discussions. You’re always looking to try to improve the team, but just like it’s so competitive on the ice, it’s competitive off the ice. You’re working with one team on trying to fix something, but they’re also working on something all the time.

“For it to all come together, sometimes it takes quite a few discussions. It’s not always easy to predict.”

Botterill is open to adding a piece anywhere.

“You’re still looking all over the place,” he said after the league’s GMs met. “It’s not always going to be the big splash on July 1, but it’s a scenario of trying to find value, trying to continue to build depth in different areas.

“Obviously, we want to develop some of our young players to have more expanded roles, but if you can pick up a player to add more depth in certain situations, we’re looking at both forward and defensemen from that standpoint.”

The Sabres hold the No. 8 draft pick in Friday’s first round, and the GM has had discussions of moving up and down.

“You have to be prepared for any scenario,” Botterill said. “From my own personal experience, I look back at the 2012 draft. Pittsburgh trades Jordan Staal a couple hours before the draft, and the next thing you know we had the eighth overall pick. Things certainly change.

“What I like what the staff has done, part of the discussions in both May and this week is, ‘OK, these are sort of the top eight guys that we’re focusing on, but what happens if we move back? What happens if we move up in the first round?’ I like the fact that they’re going through all those different scenarios and are prepared for anything.”

Though the GM meeting was Botterill’s first, he was no stranger to many. He worked with Pittsburgh’s Jim Rutherford, New Jersey’s Ray Shero and Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher, plus he dealt with others as the GM for the Penguins’ American Hockey League team.

“It was certainly exciting and a learning experience,” Botterill said. “Just everyone from Day One has certainly been respectful. Between the combine and now this, I’m starting to build relationships.”

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