Murray will have few partners in his quest to get back into the first round

Tim Murray dropped a bombshell at the GM meetings when he told Pierre LeBrun that he wants another first round selection in the upcoming draft and that he’s willing to take on salary in order to accomplish that goal.

Perhaps it wasn’t a bombshell so much as an indication that Murray plans on being busy ahead of and through this month’s draft. Here’s his quote from LeBrun’s column:

“I can’t imagine I would trade the second overall pick,” Murray said. “I’d like to get a couple of more first-round picks and I have those three third-rounders to us. I certainly know you can’t trade a second for a first, but you might take some money back in a deal to do that and I do have to get to the [cap] floor. There are different ways to get to the floor so I’m exploring all that.”

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Poll: Who will win the draft lotto? The Sabres or the field?

The 2014 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight and after 82 games of suffering the Sabres hold the most lottery balls.

Buffalo will have a 25% chance at retaining the first overall pick with the rest of the non-playoff teams making up the other 75% of the chances. If you’re playing along at home that means that the Sabres have a better chance at picking second than they do of picking first.

The precise draft odds are on the internet now that the NHL released all of the pertinent information for tonight’s drawing, and this is how the breakdown looks for the 14 teams who missed the playoffs:

Buffalo Sabres – 25.0%

Florida Panthers – 18.8%

Edmonton Oilers – 14.2%

Calgary Flames – 10.7%

New York Islanders – 8.1%

Vancouver Canucks – 6.2%

Carolina Hurricanes – 4.7%

Toronto Maple Leafs – 3.6%

Winnipeg Jets – 2.7%

Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) – 2.1%

New Jersey Devils – 1.5%

Nashville Predators – 1.1%

Phoenix Coyotes – 0.8%

Washington Capitals – 0.5%

Once again, the Sabres hold the most lottery balls due to their 30th place finish, but they still face long odds on actually keeping that pick. For example, the Panthers, Oilers and Flames have a combined 43.7% chance of winning the lottery, so the Sabres aren’t a shoo-in for the first pick just yet.

Of course, if the Sabres lose the lottery they only drop one spot in the draft order. So the Sabres are guaranteed to pick no worse than second overall this year. It’s not a bad consolation prize, particularly in a draft where there isn’t necessarily a clear cut number one prospect.

Regardless of how things transpire tonight the Sabres are all but assured to end up with either Ekblad, Bennett or Reinhart.

I think I’m going to go with The Field in this case, but who are you taking? The Sabres or The Field.

Toeing the line during the Sabres race to the lottery

It was long understood that the Sabres weren’t going to be a very good hockey team this season. However the nosedive they went on to start the season was surprising to even the most pessimistic amongst the Buffalo fan base.

Things have begun to turn around slowly under the new regime of Pat LaFontaine, Tim Murray and Ted Nolan. Buffalo has proven to be more competitive as of late and that has led to more wins along the way. In fact, they’ve scored three or more goals in four-straight games despite coming away with just two points over that span. Funny that the goaltending had been so stellar all year until the stretch where the team finally started finding the back of the net.

Buffalo’s recent run of games has highlighted a split in how fans are looking at the 2013-14 season. Amazingly there exists a legion of Sabres fans who, from the beginning of the year, expected the team to win every game and make trades to aid in winning right now. These people likely live in a world of blissful ignorance where Ryan Miller will one day be traded for Patrick Kane. It does seem that most of the fanbase has embraced the fact that the Sabres were not built to win so much as securing a high draft pick which would help to accelerate the building process.

What’s odd is that there seem to be a faction of fans who aren’t just aware and hopeful of the race for the first pick, but they’re openly rooting for the team to lose every game in order to secure said pick.  While a lottery pick is the light at the end of this tortuous tunnel, it really isn’t necessary to root against your team, is it? Especially when finishing 30th doesn’t even guarantee that pick. Continue reading

The Instigator 2.8 – Cool Draft

Eric and I got together once again for an Instigator Podcast. In this episode we discuss the Sabres decisions at the draft table, the Andrej Sekera trade and whether or not Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek will be on the team next season. As always, we close things with plus/minus.

Have a listen and feel free to share feedback:

Drafting the Sabres: All-Time first round selections

For the second-straight year, the Sabres enter the NHL Entry Draft with a pair of first round selections. Slotted in at eight and 16, the Sabres will have the opportunity to round out their portfolio of first round picks at an even 50 after 43 years of drafting.

In honor of picks 49 and 50 being made at the end of this month, I went through each of the first round picks the Sabres have made and have compiled a fantasy draft, of sorts, that chronicles the best selection made at each pick in the first round throughout the Sabres history.

There are ten spots the Sabres have never picked. Picks two, three, four, eight, nineteen, twenty-five and twenty-seven through thirty. Buffalo has made a handful of supplementary picks in some of those spots, but I chose not to include them in this practice. Starting with the 30th selection, here is the All-Time Sabres first round: Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 1.15 – Feeling Drafts

Eric and I are back for another version of The Instigator Podcast. This time we devote our time to chatting about Buffalo’s return at the Draft over the weekend. We devote a good portion to the excitement and potential behind the drafting of Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons along with exploring the depth obtained in rounds two through seven. Then, naturally, we play a little bit of plus/minus.

Feedback, questions and topics are welcome here at at 3rd Man In along with on the Twitterverse: @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.