Sabres ‘close’ to hiring GM, and Botterill looks like the favorite

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Jason Botterill is one of several candidates to interview for the Sabres’ vacant general manager position.

But he might be the only one to have interviewed twice.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Botterill’s had “some kind of second interview” with Buffalo brass to replace the recently dismissed Tim Murray. Friedman’s report comes just days after Sabres owner Terry Pegula said he was close to having a final answer with regards to the GM search.

That Botterill leads the pack shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The 40-year-old certainly checks many boxes. He’s a former Sabre, having finished off his playing career with the organization. He’s served in a variety of front office roles — originally scout in Dallas, before working his way up from Pittsburgh’s director of hockey ops, then assistant GM.

Known as a salary cap expert with a keen eye for talent evaluation, he’s been instrumental in building up the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (where he serves as GM). He was the one responsible for hiring Mike Sullivan in WBS and, on his watch, a number of farmhands have risen to prominent roles with the big club: Conor Sheary, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel, to name a few.

As mentioned above, Botterill was just one of several to get an initial interview with Pegula. The others were his fellow assistant GM in Pittsburgh, Bill Guerin, Columbus’ Bill Zito, Nashville’s Paul Fenton, New Jersey’s Tom Fitzgerald, Los Angeles’ Mike Futa and Calgary’s Craig Conroy.