Stockpiling high-end draft picks isn’t just about nabbing prospects. Sometimes you can gain more immediate boosts by converting certain picks into roster players with a well-timed trade or two.
The Buffalo Sabres have already done a little of both. Sure, they drafted Jack Eichel with the second pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, yet they also spent excess picks to nab the likes of Robin Lehner, Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane.
GM Tim Murray seems open-minded about doing similar things with the eighth overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.
He detailed what kind of deal might work to the Buffalo News:
“If we can trade a couple picks and improve our team, we’ll continue to do that,” Murray said Tuesday. “If somebody offers us a top-end, young, left-shot” defenseman “and they demand our eighth overall pick and we feel it makes us better, we’ll do the trade.”
“Top-end” is a subjective matter, but someone like Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler fits at least some of that criteria.
(Someone like Kevin Shattenkirk would be interesting, although he shoots right.)
Now, sending out feelers for a roster defenseman doesn’t mean Murray sees no value in the pick itself. Buffalo is apparently eyeing three different players who could fall to the eighth spot, with two being blueliners. (He believes at least two of them will make it that far.)
As we saw in Murray trading for Jimmy Vesey’s rights, the Sabres’ GM isn’t afraid to make bold moves. It doesn’t sound like he’s resting on his laurels this summer after such a busy 2015 off-season, either.
This could shape up to be a very busy draft night even off the boards, and don’t be surprised if Buffalo is in the thick of things.