Sabres' Botterill went defense heavy at the NHL Draft

Buffalo took five defensemen out of his six picks

Paul Hamilton
June 23, 2018 - 9:34 pm

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

Dallas, TX (WGR 550) - Jason Botterill finished his second draft in Dallas on Saturday and for the second year in a row, he took no players from Canadian Junior Hockey. It seemed like for some reason, he was shying away from those players either taking players from Europe or in the college ranks. Botterill said, “There’s nothing to shy away from. I just believe, especially in late or middle round picks the fact that you only control their rights for two years, you have to make a quicker decision on that. When you have a more extended period of four years, for Europeans or players going to college, it allows you more opportunity for them to develop.

“In the later rounds, if all things are equal, it’s something that does go into the equation,”

There were times in the draft where the Sabres had their eye on a forward, only to have him taken before them, therefor they took five defensemen. Botterill isn’t worried about it, “You can never have too many defensemen and it’s a scenario where we did talk a lot about trying to add some more defensemen, but we looked at different things throughout the last couple of days and there were some good forwards where we were looking to add to our group, it didn’t materialize.”

“If you look at our pipeline, we had to add more defensemen to our group, so we’re very happy with the way our day turned out.”

Buffalo has Rasmus Dahlin, Brendan Guhle and others, but Botterill believed they need to keep adding, “We’re very excited about developing a young player like Brendan Guhle and as much as we’re excited about Brendan Guhle, we want to make sure there’s more Brendan Guhle’s coming.”

Buffalo opened Saturday morning by taken American defenseman Mattias Samuelsson. Botterill had his eye on this guy for a while, “We certainly liked the player, we’re very excited about having him at that position. We’ve watched him very closely being at the national program, all of the big tournaments, he’s going to be a part of, so we think he’s a player that’s going to fit into Phil’s system.”

Buffalo traded its sixth round pick to Toronto for the Leafs' sixth round pick in 2019. Botterill said, “It was just a situation where we certainly still had some players on the board, but we felt comfortable we could get them in the seventh round and that’s what materialized there and we felt we should bring in another asset for next year.”

There has been a lot of talk about the Sabres trading Ryan O’Reilly and others, but very few trades happened in the NHL. Botterill needed to get better offers to do a deal, “We just didn’t feel comfortable with what was presented the last couple of days, so we’ll see how things progress for the next week or two, but our main focus was the draft.”

John Tavares announced that he’ll visit with five teams next week before July 1 free agency. Botterill said he will not be there, “I don’t anticipate being a part of that process, no.”

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