Friday, June 24, 2016

How to steal some of Toronto's thunder at the 2016 NHL Draft?

Reprinted with permission from

Make some noise.

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray is not one to shy away from pulling the trigger on a trade he believes it makes his team better and as he's shown in the past, specifically at the 2015 draft, he always has irons in the fire. Last June in Florida he, got the morning started with the announcement of the trade for Robin Lehner and after doing the expected by drafting Jack Eichel second-overall, he Commish announced that the Buffalo Sabres had traded for Colorado center Ryan O'Reilly in a blockbuster that sent shockwaves all the way from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Niagara.

A year later, Murray finds himself with a much improved roster because of those moves but with less currency to work with in terms of high draft picks and highly touted prospects as well so dropping bombshells of that magnitude via trade scenarios is not likely. Yet, that doesn't mean he can't make some noise, especially with Leaf Nation headed south to Buffalo where this year's draft begins at 7:00 tonight.

This is home court for Buffalo--complete with a rejuvenated franchise and new-look downtown--and Murray, as always, is willing to do what it takes to make his team better. If it comes at the expense of the Toronto Maple Leafs and their projected selection of franchise center Auston Matthews first overall, so be it. If it comes at the expense of stealing the thunder from our neighbors to the north as they descend upon the First Niagara Center to celebrate the drafting of their own franchise center, all the better.

Although there really isn't any pressure on Murray to make a big splash at the draft, especially when it comes to one-upping Toronto, here are a few things he might be able to focus the spotlight on the Blue and Gold instead of the Blue and White:

--An announcement that the Sabres have traded for the rights to Tampa's Steven Stamkos. We all know the Sabres are in the mix and we all know that Buffalo's owner, the Pegula's, are not afraid to go all-in financially to get what they want. Although owning the rights to Stamkos doesn't mean he'll sign with the Sabres, many of his needs can be checked off in Buffalo, including the willingness of the Sabres to pony up the cash.

--An announcement that they've signed Jimmy Vesey, son of Maple Leafs scout Jim Vesey to a deal. Murray traded a third-round pick in this year's draft for the younger Vesey but it's said that he's still looking to become a free agent come August 15th. Wouldn't necessarily be an bombshell, but in tandem with a Stamkos announcement, it could be a helluva one-two punch.

--Trade for Montreal's PK Subban. Why the Canadiens would want to move him is beyond me, but if rumors are true that he's available the Sabres would be interested. Rumor also has the Edmonton sending the fourth-overall pick and Leon Draisaitl (2014, 3rd-overall) to Montreal for Subban which seems a little low, but in terms of the Sabres, the starting point might very well be Sam Reinhart (2014, 2nd-overall) and this year's 8th-overall pick plus another young roster player like Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe or Marcus Foligno. Would you do it?

--Move up to the third slot in a trade with Columbus. Word on the street is that the Blue Jackets' GM Jarmo Kekalainen has had at least 10 trade offers for the No. 3 and he's made it clear that if he does move the pick, he wants to stay in the top-10 of this year's draft.

--Trade for Anaheim's Cam Fowler. Not a super-splash by any stretch of the imagination, but a sound move that fills a top-four d-position. Word has it that Buffalo and Montreal are the two front-runners and that the Ducks will go with the team that gives them their first round pick--Buffalo at No. 8, Montreal, No. 9. If this does happen, I sincerely hope it's the Habs. I like Fowler, but not that much.

--Make a move for Ottawa's Mike Hoffman. This has been around for a while, thanks to our own Sabres89, but it got pushed to the background with the release of Tim Murray's uncle Bryan as well as other factors. Wouldn't be an earth-shattering move, but, who cares?

That said, should the Sabres end up drafting 8th-overall--which is a good possibility if they don't trade the pick for a top-four d-man or to move up--Murray had previously said that the team has three players they're interested in and that one of them will more than likely be there. Although he didn't release any names, for obvious reasons, here's my top-3 at No. 8:

D, Olli Joulevi
D, Mikhail Sergachev
LW, Alexander Nylander

No matter what Buffalo does with the 8th-overall pick, Sabres fans shouldn't go to bed as Murray once again is said to be intent upon moving back into the first round possibly as high as No. 15. Getting there is another story as he's tried the last two years to do so but failed. Perhaps third time's a charm.

Some names of interest from this blogger's perspective:

RW, Carl Grundstrom (MODO, Sweden)
LW, Riley Tuft (Blaine HS, MN)
D, Lucas Carlsson (Byrnas, Sweden)
D, Kale Clague, (Brandon, WHL)

And in the third round with at least one pick (they have three right now) look of Buffalo to select a goaltender like Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke, QMJHL,) who is said to have given his team a chance to win every night.

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