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NHL Draft

Sabres' rebuild takes big step at 2016 NHL Draft

Buffalo adds 10 new prospects, trades for defenseman Kulikov from Florida

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO - The completion of the 2016 NHL Draft marked the end of a key weekend for the Buffalo Sabres and their rebuild, which left a lasting impression on their new prospects.

The Sabres selected Alexander Nylander from Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League with the No. 8 pick Friday and wrapped up the draft with nine more picks in Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.

Buffalo switched spots in the second round with the Florida Panthers as part of a trade that sent defenseman Mark Pysyk to Florida and brought defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to Buffalo. The Sabres jumped at the chance to take center Rasmus Asplund from Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League. Nylander and Asplund were teammates on Sweden at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

Video: Sabres Acquire Kulikov and a pick from Florida

"We played World Juniors on the same line and had really good chemistry there," Asplund said. "To have the opportunity to still play and play together for a couple years now will be awesome. I'm really happy to have Alex in this organization too and I think he is too. I'm just so happy right now."

Buffalo selected right wing Cliff Pu from London of the Ontario Hockey League with the 69th pick and Boston College defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, son of former NHL forward Tom Fitzgerald, with the 86th pick in the third round.

"I interviewed with [the Sabres] a couple weeks ago and it's just amazing to go to the hometown team," Fitzgerald said. "It speaks volumes about the city and how much they love hockey basically. The fact that they keep having events in Buffalo really says a lot about the city. Just to go here, it's amazing and I couldn't ask for anything else."

The Sabres added Canadian left wing Brett Murray in the fourth round (No. 99), took a pair of defensemen, Philip Nyberg from Sweden and Vojtech Budik from Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League, in the fifth round (Nos. 129 and 130) and selected Red Deer left wing Brett Hagel in the sixth (No. 159).

Buffalo then made one local player's dreams come true in the seventh round when it selected Mississauga defenseman Austin Osmanski, who was born in nearby East Aurora, New York, about 30 minutes from Buffalo.

"I couldn't even dream of it," Osmanski said. "If you were to ask me a couple of years that this would happen, that I'd be wearing this sweater on this day, I don't think I'd even be able to give you an answer."

In all, the Sabres made 10 picks in the draft, but the lasting impression left on all who came to Buffalo, and even to some who now call Buffalo home, was a positive one.

"I stepped out of the Hyatt yesterday and, I think, 12 years ago I stepped out of the same spot and looked down that street and what is out there now and what is happening to our city is significantly different," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "The vibe, the people, the excitement of hockey in Buffalo and the change in our city, I think it's pretty amazing."

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