The Curious Case of the Third Round Picks Buffalo Shipped Away

The third round of the NHL Draft is hardly an electrifying portion of the event. The picks all hold fair value on the floor and in trade negotiations, but in either case you’re not referring to any blockbuster moves.

However, the Buffalo Sabres’ own involvement in the 2016 third round was actually somewhat interesting. Not so much for the picks they made, but for the ones which found their way to other teams.

At one point or another, the Sabres held five picks in this year’s third round. Buffalo would only wind up making a pair of selections in the round after entering the weekend with a trio of picks. Cliff Pu would be selected 69th (nice) and Casey Fitzgerald 86th while the other three selections previously held by the Sabres found their way to other cities.

A pair of the picks moved in relatively boring fashion. The St. Louis Blues selection (89th) was sent to Florida as part of the trade which brought Dmitri Kulikov and the 33rd selection to Buffalo in exchange for Mark Pysyk and the 38th pick. Buffalo had previously acquired the pick as part of the Ryan Miller trade two years ago.

Minnesota’s selection (76th), acquired from Anaheim in exchange for Jamie McGinn, was sent to Nashville in exchange for the rights to Jimmy Vesey.  That pick changed hands a total of four times as it was originally traded to Florida in exchange for Sean Bergenheim ahead of the 2015 trade deadline.

Florida only held the pick for two days before packaging it with a second round pick to acquire Jaromir Jagr from New Jersey. The Devils would eventually use those two selections to trade for Kyle Palmeri from Anaheim where the Ducks would use the pick to acquire Jamie McGinn at this year’s deadline.

The fifth and final pick the Sabres previously held followed an even more circuitous route than Minnesota’s previous pick. The pick in question being Vancouver’s 64th overall selection, a pick that was re-acquired by the Canucks via a host of trades and specific conditions.

Vancouver originally traded their 2016 third round pick to the Islanders in 2014 with Alexandre Mallet to acquire Andrey Pedan. The Islanders would hold the pick until Garth Snow went searching for help in net at last season’s deadline.

Buffalo acquired the pick with Chad Johnson from the Islanders in exchange for Michal Neuvirth. The Sabres would only hold the pick for a short period of time as it was awarded to the Pittsburgh Penguins as compensation for the hiring of Dan Byslma.

The pick found its way home to Vancouver as part of the deal that saw the Canucks acquire Brandon Sutter from the Penguins. The entire package was Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and Anaheim’s 2016 second round pick to the Penguins for Brandon Sutter and a conditional third round pick. The condition being that the Cancucks receive the higher of third round picks between their own and the Islanders.

This condition interested me as it would have had to carry over to the Canucks from not only the Penguins but the Sabres as well. Meaning the original trade between New York and Buffalo likely included the caveat that the Sabres would have received the higher of the two picks owned by the Islanders.

It’s irrelevant from a Sabres perspective as they didn’t have much of a choice as to which selection they gave up to the Penguins for Dan Byslma. However, it is interesting that through the various tie-ins and conditions placed on trades these days that the Canucks would ultimately trade for their own pick when acquiring Sutter.

Depending on your view of Jim Benning, you may laugh that he paid a fair bounty to bring Sutter and his own pick back to Vancouver. Or you may simply see it as a GM realizing he could reacquire one of his original picks to maintain the assets for an offer sheet or future deals.

It is an odd occurrence for sure and one that probably only interests trade nerds like myself. But as I was looking through the deals that affected Buffalo’s incredibly deep trade tree, I realized the odd circumstances surrounding the picks they moved.

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