Sabres' Botterill doesn't expect to trade the seventh overall pick

The Sabres general manager also said he is not buying out Vladimir Sobotka

Paul Hamilton
June 21, 2019 - 5:29 pm

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

Vancouver, BC (WGR 550) - Going into Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft, Jason Botterill knows he’s going to get a good player at No. 7. Botterill said, “Definitely, we feel very, very comfortable of that at seven and you always put in inquiries about possibly moving up to see what’s there, but those other teams have players that they certainly want to get to, so I’d be surprised if there’s a lot of movement, but predicting trades is very difficult.”

The Sabres obviously don’t know the player that could be there for them, but Botterill said he knows his staff is on top of it, “We know the top two and then from three to 12, there are a lot of different scenarios and I think our group is certainly ready for it.”

I asked Botterill if a trade for the seventh overall pick is off the table. He said, “I’d be absolutely shocked if anything for that progresses in the next couple of hours.”

The Sabres don’t have a second round pick, but they do have two first rounders. Botterill said anything could happen with that Blues pick, “That’s where you’re just at the table and you’re watching how the draft’s progressing. You’re thinking is there an opportunity to still move up with one of your later round picks or a player.

“You’re also having discussions with teams about NHL players for that pick too. Sometimes with those later round picks you come back and get two in the second, so it’s something we will talk about.”

The name that is constantly out there when it comes to trades is Rasmus Ristolainen. The defenseman wouldn’t say if he wanted to stay in Buffalo on locker clean out day. Botterill said, “We value Risto a lot as a player. He’s a right shot defenseman, a physical presence and Ralph and I have talked a lot about how do we continue his development. We still view Risto as a developing player.

“We understand that there are going to be inquiries about him, we’re open as an organization to try to find ways to improve our team, but we’re very glad to have Risto as part of our organization.”

The Sabres have Linus Ullmark, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Jonas Johansson as the young goalies in their organization. It sounds like Botterill may be looking for another one to draft, “We’re still excited with the growth of Ullmark and Luukkonen had an amazing year last year, but you’re always looking to try to add goaltending to the mix just because you understand that it’s going to be a longer development and it’s always a little more difficult predicting that, so if you can find more options to have within your organization, you’re certainly looking to do that.”

“I do not anticipate using any buyouts, no.” That means Botterill is not buying out Vladimir Sobotka.

Many are losing their minds because on June 21, the Sabres haven’t made any trades yet. Forget the fact that there’s over three months until the season starts, they must lose their minds now. Botterill said trades can happen at any point, “There’s always a lot of communication at this time of year and I think sometimes there’s a belief that everything is going to happen right here and right now this weekend, but maybe it’s building up for next week or the week after, but you’re all together. It’s a great thing about the draft is everyone’s here together, so there’s a lot going on and it always contributes to a lot of rumors too.”

Botterill believes more in building through trades than unrestricted free agency. He said, “You’re doing both, that’s why starting on Sunday you’re making calls, you’re interacting with people and it’s on both fronts because you know other teams are doing the same thing.

“I know people talk about this year being a big free agent market and yes, there’s certainly some high end talent, but I don’t think there’s the quantity in there and I think where we’re at as a team, we have to be ready on both fronts.”

As we reported on Tuesday, the Sabres have made qualifying offers to Jake McCabe, Evan Rodrigues, Linus Ullmark, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons. Botterill would not comment on C.J. Smith, Remi Elie, Eric Cornel or Sean Malone.

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