Sabres trade discussions revealed

Draft trade

This morning on WGR550, Howard Simon and Jeremy White spoke with Sabres Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine to talk about the Sabres’ plans for the upcoming draft.

In a rare front office interview that revealed actual information, Devine talked openly about the Sabres’ discussions with Colorado Avalanche management about this year’s top draft pick.

Here are some highlights from the interview which can be heard in it’s entirety at

Q: How much of a goal is it for the team to move up in the draft?

DEVINE: I think like a lot of teams we’d like to move up and draft probably from both positions but realistically other teams are trying to do the same things. We’re going to look at all the options and see if that’s a viable thing to do.  We believe right now at 8 and 16 we’re going to get two good players and we’ll see if the other things make sense.

Q: Who’s the best player available, who would you pick first overall?


Nathan MacKinnon

DEVINE: It’s either Jones or MacKinnon I really don’t want to say. We’ve had conversations with a lot of teams including Colorado. I do think there’ll be some movement in those picks. But it will be one of those two guys, I’ll let you have that.

Q: You said you’ve had conversations with Colorado?

DEVINE: We have had conversations with Colorado. I think you know there’s been a regime change there as everybody knows in the last three weeks. And I think they’re trying to figure out themselves what’s happening there. I believe they’re having internal meetings there this week and we’ll probably get back to them at some point. We’re waiting for a call back to find out what their position is.

Q: Waiting to hear back if they’re willing or find out what the price is?

DEVINE: Probably both. We’re exploring everything. I think Darcy has talked to every non-playoff team and as soon as teams get out of the playoffs, Darcy makes a pretty quick call. So, obviously, we’ve talked to all the teams in front of us and trying to gauge exactly where they’re at with moving their pick.

Q: How serious do you think Colorado or Florida are in moving their pick or are they just messing around?

DEVINE: I think it’s how far they want to move back. And you take the situation in Colorado and where there’s a new regime in there with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. I don’t think Patrick came in there with the idea of a long rebuild. So I think they might be willing to listen to a few things. And like I said, with it being a deep draft and there being all kinds of different options with different kinds of players.. defense, gritty forwards, skilled forwards, there’s all kinds of options. We don’t exactly know what teams are thinking in front of us, but it keeps our options open.

Q: How many different scenarios have been talked about in moving up?

DEVINE: That was the basis of our meetings over the past week and a lot of the conversation over two days. What would it take to get this pick? What would it take to get that pick? Is that going to be something we’re willing to do?  The preliminary talks are that everybody’s talking about our young players to move up. So we’ve got to decide if it makes sense to move some of those players to move up? So it’s a difficult conversation, but if you’re really honed in on one guy and he can be a franchise changer then you have to look at it.

So the Sabres have their eyes set on Nathan MacKinnon, right?

So what might it take to reel in that 1st pick?

You in?

Astute observer, aspiring author, and student of the games.

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  1. After listening to the interview, it sounded more to me like wishful thinking that they can get up to the top 2 or 3 picks.
    The #1 question is what will Colorado want for the #1 pick. Devine hinted at Colorado not wanting to move from 1st to 8th. So, they will probably ask for something like this:
    3rd or 4th overall
    [another prospect like McNabb or Girgensons or Armia]
    [another pick like a 2nd or 3rd]
    Then the Sabres have to figure out can they get up to 3 with Tampa or 4 with Nashville.
    If the rumor that Florida was talking to Tampa about a Eric Gudbranson (D that was 3rd overall in 2010 and still on an ELC) plus for the 3rd overall pick, then perhaps Tampa would be interested in Myers + 8 for the 3rd pick if the Sabres are willing to take back a contract to help Tampa out against the cap. Or Pysyk, 8, and a whole lot more.
    Then the Sabres need to ask themselves if all those assets to get up to 1 to take Jones or MacKinnon are worth it….
    Personally, I would rather see the Sabres try and keep as many of the picks and good young players as they can and be patient with this draft class being talked about as perhaps the deepest draft since 2003. 
    Maybe see if they can use Stafford (or Vanek or Miller) or maybe a young player they view as expendable (Ennis perhaps….) as the trade ammo to move up from 8 to 5 or 6 or up from 16 and not worry about the allure of a top 3 pick.
    In 2003, Jeff Carter went 11, Dustin Brown went 13, Brent Seabrook went 14, Zach Parise went 17, Ryan Getzlaf went 19, Ryan Kesler went 23, Mike Richards went 24, and Corey Perry went 28. 
    And Patrice Bergeron went 45.
    If this year is anything like 2003, I’d rather have as many top 60 picks as possible versus burning multiple picks for one guy.
    But, that’s just me….

  2. Can’t give up Gregs, Pysyk, Armeia or McNabb. The draft is deep and two high quality players are better than moving up. You give up those young guys and you’ve set yourself back. There is always someone who takes a player that was never expected to go. You have to draft talent combined with attitude. Some of these guys in the top five have issues with the latter.

  3. Q: “How much of a goal is it for the team to move up in the draft?” – DEVINE: “I think like a lot of teams we’d like to move up”
    Oh gee, well maybe you should have thought about that when you made that RIDICULOUS AND FAILED PUSH FOR THE PLAYOFFS AND BLEW A TOP-5 DRAFT PICK FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW!!! This franchise is off it’s rocker!

    • @GregAntilla Management didn’t make a push.
      They fired the coach, promoted an internal interim coach with no NHL head coaching experience, and then sold at the deadline, including trading away the team captain for nothing that helped the NHL roster immediately.
      The only thing that management didn’t do was keep Ruff through the entire season or tradee more guys (namely Miller as Vanek was hurt a lot in the second half of the season).
      You can’t blame the franchise because the players and coaching staff didn’t quit.

      • @JimBobv2  
        Point is, they were near the bottom of the standings at the halfway mark (or even with just a few weeks to go) for the past 3 seasons, then “tried hard” and wound up either getting bounced in the first round or missing the playoffs in 9th or 10th place, screwing themselves out of very high draft picks. Then they talk about wishing they could improve in the draft. One of these things is not like the othhhheerrrrrr……

        • @GregAntilla Who is the “they” you are talking about?
          Management can’t tell the coaches and players to tank.
          It’s not like they bought at the deadline the past two seasons to try and make the playoffs and came up short.

        • @JimBobv2  With all due respect, bullshit. Don’t tell me Pittsburgh and Chicago built dream teams by trying hard but failing. Don’t tell me that teams can’t decide to look at the bigger picture and throw games knowing that they’ll be a better team for it if they can draft a star player rather than miss the playoffs by 2 or 3 points or get bounced in one round.
          The fact remains, they had a shot at drafting in the Top-5 for three years in a row, but blew it. One first round exit and two no-shows, with ZERO star players drafted as a result. 3 golden opportunities, 3 wasted “trying hard”.

        • @GregAntilla Chicago was built on high picks due to the utter incompetence of Dollar Bill Wirtz’s ownership. They would still be floundering if he hadn’t passed away and Rocky hadn’t taken over control of the team.
          The Sabres were just out of the playoffs two years ago because they thought they could compete going into the season with the high of the new Pegula ownership and the UFA signings they made. That team was nowhere near tank mode.
          This past season management missed a golden opportunity to bottom out by not moving Miller, Vanek, and Ott at the deadline for picks and prospects.
          But that isn’t on the players and coaches.
          You can’t ask the players and coaches to tank. 
          If that is what management wants, they need to get rid of the veterans that can make the team too good to tank.
          They didn’t do that.

        • @JimBobv2 Players, coaches, management. I really don’t care. This is arguing semantics. My point was they had an opportunity to get sky high draft picks and potentially become the next talent-stacked team, but they blew it. They more or less followed the Toronto Maple Leafs recipe for failure: finish too low for the playoffs, too high for draft picks. And now, hey… we ARE the new Toronto Maple Leafs. What a joke.

        • @GregAntilla How did a team that made the playoffs three years ago just miss out on a high pick?
          How did a team that just missed the playoffs two years ago just miss a high pick?
          This year it was there for the taking. I can’t blame the coaches and players for trying. I can blame Regier for not dealing Miller and Vanek and doing everything he could to tank.
          And as far as the semantics go, it’s ridiculous to expect the coaches and players to quit to get good draft picks.
          In the immortal words of Herm Edwards “You play to win the game. HELLO!!!”

        • @JimBobv2 “How did a team that made the playoffs three years ago just miss out on a high pick?” – If you recall, they were actually struggling and near the bottom of the conference at the halfway point of that season, which is why I include that season with the following two when I reference having a shot at draft picks. Duh, hellllllooooooo?
          “How did a team that just missed the playoffs two years ago just miss a high pick?” – Alright, now you’re just being silly. See the above comment.
          As far as the players and coaches goes, yes, you are arguing semantics. You seemed to latch onto the word “they” and just wouldn’t let it go, which as a result caused you to completely miss the point of my post. I don’t know why you can’t decipher by simple point… I mean, you show brilliant flashes of understanding it by talking about “Regier not tanking”… but then you keep falling back on this “coaches and players” thing. Just take the comment for crips sakes.

        • @GregAntilla In 2010-11 they finished 34 pts ahead of the Oilers who held the first pick and 24 pts ahead of Florida that held the third pick.
          It is completely unreasonable to point to that season as one that they “just missed a top pick”.
          In 2011-12, they finished 24 pts ahead of Columbus who had the worst record in the league and 11 pts ahead of Montreal that picked 3rd.
          They had somewhat of a chance. But, they would have had to out terrible 9 other teams to get into the top 3. That’s not as easy as you want to make it out to be.
          Even this year, with the shortened 48 game season, they finished 12 pts ahead of Florida who had the worst record.
          I just think you are underestimating how incompetent a GM has to be or how messed up a franchise has to be to get the top picks.
          This team continues to be just good enough to not get good. 
          The good news is that if you have a good GM, you don’t need top 3 picks carrying the mail for you.
          Anaheim has been carried by Getzlaf and Perry who were second half of the first round picks in 2003. Sure, they have Bobby Ryan who was a top pick, but he isn’t the straw that stirs the drink.
          Detroit has been carried by Datsyuk & Zetterberg (and Lindstrom before that) who were later round picks.
          Philly has been consistently good without JVR giving them a ton.
          The Sabres weren’t guaranteed a cup after drafting Bert #1 nor Turgeon #1. 
          Getting MacKinnon (or Jones or Drouin or Barkov) is meaningless “suffering” if the right team isn’t put together.
          I’m less worried about the Sabres tanking for a top pick or two than I am about the pretty much proven fact that Regier doesn’t have the blueprint to build a team that can get a Cup.

        • @JimBobv2  What you’re doing is arguing against what I said by looking at the final results. If you’ll note, I said they were in the running for high draft picks near the MIDDLE of the season, and even a bit afterwards (they were near the bottom with just a couple weeks to go this year). If they had simply maintained their pace, they would have stayed within the goldilocks zone for high picks. THAT is what I’m saying. Instead, they “tried hard” and wound up with nothing, and as a result you see a team that could have had more weapons in it’s arsenal, but doesn’t. I don’t know how much more simpler I can explain this… you’re a bad team, you know you’re not championship caliber, you can either keep doing what you’re doing and get a couple potential star players that will make you better in the years to come, OR, you could make an ill-advised run and get nothing. One hand is something, the other hand is nothing… which hand do you pick? It’s THAT simple. Something or nothing, pick one.
          Also, if you’ll note, I said Top-5, not Top-3.
          “Getting MacKinnon (or Jones or Drouin or Barkov) is meaningless “suffering” if the right team isn’t put together.” – And putting the right team together without those critically important star/superstar players is meaningless. The Blackhawks are the right team, but don’t tell me they would have won 2 Cups in the last 4 years without Kane and Toews. And guess what they were? Top-3 picks. Interesting…
          As far as Regier goes, you won’t get any arguments there from me.

        • @GregAntilla Top 5 vs Top 3 can be very different depending on the year.
          Heck, there can be huge dropoffs after 1 or 2 as well.
          Look at last year. I think most people saw a big dropoff from Galchenyuk at 3 and Reinhart at 4.
          The same could be said after RNH, Landeskog, & Huberdeau in 2011.
          Strome at 5 is so highly thought of there are people on the Island saying he could be trade bait to land Ryan Miller!
          In 2010, there was a huge dropoff after Taylor vs Tyler.
          In 2009, there was a sizable drop after Tavares & Hedman.
          So, Top 5 doesn’t mean much if the top of the draft isn’t deep. The key is to get into the blue chip zone.
          In Kane’s draft year, that was just #1.
          Van Riemsdyk went 2 (already traded away), Turris went 3 (already traded away), Hickey went 4 (looking like a bust), and Alzner went 5 (good defensive defenseman, but not an impact player).
          I’d rather have the 8th pick this year than the 2nd through 5th picks in 2007.
          2006 was the last draft that really went 5 deep at the top with Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, and Phil Kessel. Although, three of the five have been traded.
          And it still stands that it’s hard to stink that bad. Players and coaches won’t quit. Other teams will stink. And sometimes luck is on your side.
          You have to try really hard to stink bad enough to pick at the top. Maybe the Sabres are going to try that now after not trying to in the past.
          We shall see……

        • @JimBobv2 This year’s draft is deep, but the cream of the crop is still in the Top 5 range. It’s comical to see them squirm and bemoan not being able to move up when they were right where they needed to be with only a couple weeks remaining, then blew it. You say it’s hard to stink that bad, well they did exactly that this season. Watching them “push for 10th” or wherever the hell they finished was like watching a car accident happen and yelling “STOPPPPPP! PLEASE OF THE LOVE OF GOD STOP!”
          As far as them trying to stink now, no, they won’t. They’ll “try hard”. We’re going to suffer through 3 to 5 seasons of excruciating middle of the road hockey.
          Wake me up when they actually make it to the second round of the playoffs.

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