After they began the day with the addition of Dmitry Kulikov, the Sabres had nine draft picks to make on Day 2 of the NHL Draft. They stuck to the theme that began when they selected Alex Nylander eighth overall on Friday, targeting players with speed and skill that can add to a roster that already features players in that mold, players such as Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane.
At the end of the day, the Sabres came away feeling they did a job well done.
"I think we think, even with our last two picks, we feel like there is a possibility that these players could be special players," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Certainly down the road, not immediately, but down the road for our team and you probably don’t sense it from a distance but our scouts are pretty excited when they get that opportunity to do what we did in the last couple rounds."
Here's a pick-by-pick rundown of Day 2 from the Draft.
ROUND 2, PICK NO. 33 – RASMUS ASPLUND, C, FARJESTAD (SHL)
Our own Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com had Asplund pegged as a first-round pick, and Sabres General Manager Tim Murray agreed. He traded up from No. 38 to draft Asplund, an 18-year-old center who scored 12 points (4+8) in 48 SHL games last season.
In fact, Murray said that Asplund's availability became a key component of the trade to acquire Kulikov.
"That was the last thing I put in the deal today," Murray said. "We had not talked about that aspect in the deal … I told them that we had to flip-flop our second-round picks because Asplund was still on the board. We regrouped last night, he was the only five left in our ratings."
Asplund has been linemates with Alex Nylander, the Sabres' first-round pick, in international play, including for Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship this year. He scored five points (3+2) in seven games.
ROUND 3, PICK NO. 69 – CLIFF PU, RW, LONDON (OHL)
Pu's draft status almost certainly rose after a fantastic playoff performance for London, when he scored 13 points (8+5) in 18 games to help the Knights win the 2016 Memorial Cup. He scored 31 points (12+19) in 63 regular-season games prior.
"I think we had a great year as a team in London and that really helped the players out," Pu said. "The farther you go the higher you go in the Draft and it can only help you so I'm pretty thankful to play for them."
Pu's father, Jun, moved to Ottawa from China at age 25 and his mother, Carol, followed one year later. The family eventually moved to Toronto, where Pu was born. Growing up, his older sister would take dance classes and there was a rink attached. He fell in love with the game.
He didn’t, however, fall in love with the Maple Leafs, and he says it was their perennial losing that stopped him from ever truly becoming a fan. He found it surreal to hear the Buffalo fans boo Toronto as they made their picks this weekend.
"It's pretty special and kind of gave me the chills," he said. "I'm just happy to be here right now."
ROUND 3, PICK NO. 86 – CASEY FITZGERALD, D, BOSTON COLLEGE (NCAA)
Fitzgerald comes from a family full of current, former, and future NHL players. His father, Tom, played 1,097 NHL games over 17 seasons and currently works as the assistant GM for the New Jersey Devils. His older brother, Ryan, was drafted by the Bruins in 2013. His cousins include Jimmy and Kevin Hayes as well as Keith and Matthew Tkachuk.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma is particularly familiar with Fitzgerald's game, having known him since a young age. Tom Fitzgerald worked in the front office for the Pittsburgh Penguins when Bylsma was the coach there, and he's been watching Casey since.
Casey stopped by his father's table before going to meet with the Sabres once he heard his name called.
"I've seen Casey play amateur hockey as much or more than most people drafted today going back three years ago or four years ago even," Bylsma said. "I gave him a little poke for that trip to the Devil table first."
After going undrafted in 2015, Fitzgerald had an impressive freshman campaign with 27 points (4+23) at Boston College.
"I'm a two-way defender," he said. "I like to play both ends. I'm steady in the defensive end and I can supply a lot of offense as well, jumping into the rush and just being a reliable two-way defender."
This year, he came with no expectations other than to enjoy the experience. He left a happy man, wearing a blue and gold jersey.
"I'm friends with Jack Eichel so I talked to him about it, I've seen him, he said he loves it here," he said. "I'm really excited."
ROUND 4, PICK NO. 99 – BRETT MURRAY, LW, CARLETON PLACE (CCHL)
No, he's not related to the Sabres GM, but Brett Murray does have an interesting tie to Buffalo. He's committed to play college hockey at Penn. State University in 2017-18, meaning he'll be playing his home games at Pegula Ice Arena. Sabres owner Terry Pegula is an alumnus of the university and funded the construction of their state-of-the-art hockey rink, which opened in 2013.
That facility was part of the reason Murray chose to become a Nittany Lion. He was able to meet Pegula briefly after being selected on Saturday.
"It was just brief on the floor but he just gave me a couple of words, told me I got quite the road ahead of me," Murray said. "I've got to work hard and he's going to be pushing me."
Murray is a 6-feet-4-inch, 216-pound power forward. He scored 46 points (14+32) in 48 games for Carleton Place last season.
ROUND 5, PICK NO. 129 – PHILIP NYBERG, D, LINKOPING JR. (SWEDEN)
Nyberg is another player who will take his talents to the NCAA, joining the University of Wisconsin for the 2016-17 season. He's played his junior hockey to this point for the Linköping Hockey Club and scored 18 points (4+14) in 45 games at the J20 SuperElit level last season.
Nyberg is listed as being 6-feet-3-inches tall and 189 pounds.
ROUND 5, PICK NO. 130 – VOJTECH BUDIK, D, PRINCE ALBERT (WHL)
Buffalo went back-to-back on defense with its fifth-round picks, and this one saw the addition of Brendan Guhle's teammate from Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League. Budik played 70 games for the Raiders last season, scoring 16 points (3+13).
ROUND 6, PICK NO. 159 – BRANDON HAGEL, LW, RED DEER (WHL)
Another product of the Western Hockey League, Hagel scored 47 points (13+34) in 72 games as a rookie for Red Deer last season. The Morinville, AB native was ranked No. 104 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Services and has been praised by scouts for his work ethic on the ice.
ROUND 7, PICK NO. 189 – AUSTIN OSMANSKI, D, MISSISSAUGA (OHL)
We wrote about Osmanski, an East Aurora native, earlier in the week. He grew up attending Sabres games his whole life. He was there when Chris Drury tied Game 5 with 7.7 seconds remaining and Max Afinogenov slid across the ice in overtime. He wears No. 36 in honor of Patrick Kaleta.
On Saturday, the hometown kid saw his dream come true. He was drafted by the Sabres in Buffalo.
"I wish I could tell you what it feels like right now," he said. "I saw my grandpa and he had some tears. I kind of had to hold them back a little bit because I don’t think anybody else here cried today. For me, a lot came into this so for it to finally pull off like this, it's pretty special."
Prior to spending last season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, Osmanski played his games at HARBORCENTER with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. He trains with the Academy of Hockey and works out with Murray's son, Jared.
"I said to our guys at the table, there is no way to measure what a local kid – and he wasn’t picked just because he's local, he does play major junior hockey which is a feeder system to us and he's a good prospect – but there's no metric to measure that he's going to be in this building every day, in our gym, trying to become a Buffalo Sabre. He's going to go above and beyond," Murray said.
Osmanski is also good friends with Nylander, a teammate and classmate in Mississauga.
"He's one of my best buddies," Osmanski. "He came over every day for lunch after school and I texted him last night and he said he's already amazed by the city and stuff like that. He actually texted me today before the Draft and said good luck and stuff … he said hopefully Buffalo picks both of us. He kind of called it, right?"
ROUND 7, PICK NO. 190 – VASILY GLOTOV, C, LVY ST. PETERSBURG MHL
The Sabres capped their Draft by picking Glotov, a Russian center who scored 55 points (23+32) in 42 games last season. Glotov was ranked No. 58 amongst European skaters by NHL Central Scouting Services.