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NHL Draft notebook: Sabres stay quiet on trade front – for now

DALLAS -- Lots of talk but no trades. Yet.

The Buffalo Sabres were in celebratory mode this weekend after drafting Rasmus Dahlin Friday night with the No. 1 overall pick. General Manager Jason Botterill kept forging on, of course, but kept his focus mostly on the draft.

So Ryan O'Reilly is still on the roster. So is everybody else, at least for now. There was no movement of NHL or AHL players from the organization.

"We just didn't feel comfortable with what was presented the last couple of days," Botterill said after the draft wrapped up in American Airlines Center. "We'll see how things progress over the next week or two. Our main focus was the draft, and we're very excited where we're at the last three days."

It's widely known the Sabres had extensive talks this week with Montreal about O'Reilly, and perhaps about acquiring Habs captain Max Pacioretty. The St. Louis Blues were also known to be pushing hard for O'Reilly -- who is owed a $7.5 million signing bonus on July 1. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Sabres are much more likely to keep O'Reilly once they shell out that bonus.

"It's just very difficult to figure out," Botterill said. "Sometimes you think a lot of things make sense and things just don't come to fruition for different reasons."

The Sabres' lone deal came when they traded their sixth-round pick, No. 156 overall, to Toronto for the Leafs' sixth-rounder in next year's draft in Vancouver. That will undoubtedly be a much lower choice, but Botterill didn't have any concern on that point.

"We had some players still on our board and felt comfortable we could get them in the seventh round," Botterill said. "And we could get another asset for next year."

Botterill has now worked out nine draft picks for Buffalo in 2019. The Sabres have two firsts and two fourths, with the extras both acquired from San Jose for Evander Kane, and the extra No. 6 from Toronto. Buffalo has no fifth-round pick as that was traded to Detroit last October for Scott Wilson.


Also from Botterill:

-- -For the record, the GM was asked if he was going to be in the interview process for New York Islanders center John Tavares, and his answer was simple: "I don't anticipate being part of that process, no."

Tavares' camp is expecting to talk to five teams as part of free agency discussions, although most observers expect him to stay in New York in the wake of the hiring of Barry Trotz as coach less than two weeks after he won a Stanley Cup in Washington.

--- Botterill declined to discuss the Sabres' potential qualifying offers, which are due at 5 p.m. Monday. While Botterill said Friday the team is walking away from goalie Robin Lehner, he has continued to not address Victor Antipin's status amid rumors the defenseman may return to the KHL.

--- Asked about Sam Reinhart's qualifying offer and talks on a possible bridge or long-term deal for the team's co-leader in goals last season, Botterill said: "Sam had a great second half, and our discussion with (agent) Craig Oster and his staff have been positive. I don't view it as a difficult situation at all. Hopefully we'll look at different structures in upcoming weeks and get something done."

Notes on Friday night's selection of Rasmus Dahlin as the No. 1 overall pick:

--- Dahlin, the first Swede taken No. 1 overall since Matt Sundin (1989-Quebec), became the highest-rated Swedish defensemen ever selected. He surpassed Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay, who was taken No. 2 overall in 2009.

--- Dahlin became the eighth player born outside North America chosen with the No. 1 overall pick and second in as many years after Swiss star Nico Hischier went to New Jersey last year. The others: Nail Yakupov (2012-Edmonton), Alex Ovechkin (2004-Washington), Ilya Kovalchuk (2001-Atlanta), Patrik Stefan (1999-Atlanta), Roman Hamrlik (1992-Tampa Bay) and Mats Sundin (1989-Quebec).

--- Dahlin became the 15th defenseman selected at No. 1 overall and the first since Florida selected Aaron Ekblad in 2014. Before that, a blueliner had not gone No. 1 since St. Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006.

--- Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Montreal) became the second non-North American trio selected with the top three picks. The only other time that has happened was 1999, when the top four selections came from outside North America (Patrik Stefan, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Pavel Brendl).

--- Dahlin was one of 28 Swedes taken in the draft, tying the most from the country with the draft of 2011. He was one of six to go in the first round, also tying a record for his country set three previous times (last in 2011).

--- The Sabres confirmed Dahlin will be at development camp starting Wednesday at HarborCenter. They are hopeful of having all their picks at the four-day program.

Mike Harrington: Sabres must capitalize on Rasmus Dahlin's impact

Finally a Sabre: In a frozen moment, Dahlin (and mom) are Buffalo-bound


---For the first time, the top six picks came from six different countries (Sweden, Russia, Finland, USA, Canada, Czech Republic).

---A total of 217 players from 14 countries and 29 leagues were taken over the two days. There were 70 defensemen, the most of any position.

---Two historic left wings were taken in the seventh round: Liam Kirk went to Arizona, becoming the first Great Britain-born and developed player taken. Dallas took Jermaine Loewen, the first Jamaican-born player picked.

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