Buffalo Sabres could make another draft-day splash

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Say what you will about the Buffalo Sabres’ 2011-12 season,* but GM Darcy Regier didn’t totally fall asleep at the wheel. If nothing else, exchanging a couple months worth of Paul Gastaud for a low first-round draft pick from the Nashville Predators shows that he’s got some savvy. Making moves like that opened up interesting possibilities for the Sabres, who have four of the top 44 picks in the 2012 NHL Draft, as John Vogl points out.

Those picks – or merely an interest in making something happen, as they did last year in snatching Robyn Regehr – could come in handy during the draft, which you might argue is the “new” trade deadline.

Washington Capitals GM George McPhee – another guy with a wealth of picks this year – probably hits the nail on the head when he describes the mood among NHL execs around draft time.

“It’s a real busy time for trades and everything else because as we’ve all learned trades are real difficult to make during the season now,” McPhee said. “”It used to be you could call a club and some GMs would say, ‘I’m trying to do this or that,’ but most guys would hold things pretty close to the vest because they didn’t want everyone to know what they were doing with their ammunition. But now most teams say, ‘Listen, I’m deep here or there, and I’m trying to move this for that.’ Guys are much more open about what they want to do, to get the message out to other clubs because this is the time to deal.”

Vogl reminds us that the Sabres’ history of draft-day deals is pretty rich in interesting moves and believes that Derek Roy’s name might just come up next week.

If the Sabres move Roy or another big name, it wouldn’t be the first time they used draft weekend to significantly alter the roster. Names such as Jochen Hecht, Michael Peca, Tim Connolly, Don Edwards and Tony McKegney have been part of selection meeting swaps. The biggest blockbuster came in 1990, when the Sabres acquired Dale Hawerchuk and a first-round pick from Winnipeg in exchange for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and a first-round pick.

The Capitals (11 picks) and Carolina Hurricanes (10) are the only teams that have more picks than Buffalo’s nine. Of course, that could change if the Sabres hand over a few of those selections in another big move.

* – I’d say it was a jarring cautionary tale about summer spending, but that’s just me.