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NHL Draft season is upon us, meaning it’s time to spend the next month dissecting the various options for the Buffalo Sabres with the 11th-overall pick and their seven other selections.

Between now and the start of the draft on June 28, we’ll be rounding up analyst opinions, profiling potential prospects who could be selected by the Sabres, and covering any and all news coming from 1 Seymour Knox III Plaza.

Be sure to bookmark the NHL Draft Hub to keep up to date with the latest coverage.

In the meantime, here are some answers to questions you may have at the outset of draft season.

What dates do I need to know?

The NHL Scouting Combine will be held right here in Buffalo at LECOM Harborcenter from June 2 to 8. The top draft-eligible prospects will descend on Western New York to meet with teams throughout the week, which culminates with fitness testing and media interviews on Saturday, June 8.

The NHL Draft will be held at Sphere in Las Vegas – the first sporting event held at the already iconic venue – beginning with Round 1 on Friday, June 28 at 7 p.m. Rounds 2 through 7 will be held on Saturday, June 29 beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Where are the Sabres picking?

The Sabres hold eight picks in the draft, beginning with the 11th-overall selection of the first round.

The full list of picks is as follows:

Round 1 – 11th overall

Round 2 – 43rd overall

Round 3 – 76th overall

Round 4 – 108th overall

Round 4 – 109th overall (from Philadelphia)

Round 6 – 172nd overall

Round 7 – 204th overall

Round 7 – TBD (from Florida) *

* The seventh-round pick from Florida will become a 2024 fifth-round pick if the Panthers win the Stanley Cup. The Panthers will play in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Saturday.

Have the Sabres picked 11th before?

Yes, on five occasions. The most notable was the 1979 selection of defenseman Mike Ramsey, a member of the famed 1980 United States Olympic Team who went on to have one of the most accomplished careers in franchise history, earning induction to the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2001.

Lee Fogolin, a defenseman who spent four seasons with the Sabres before going on to win two Stanley Cups with Edmonton, was also drafted by Buffalo with the 11th pick in 1974.

Who will be available with the 11th pick?

This is a topic we’ll be exploring throughout the month, with plenty of candidates seemingly on the table at both forward and defense. San Jose general manager Mike Grier confirmed his club expects to pick Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini with the No. 1 pick, but media mock drafts differ in the order of the top prospects beginning at No. 2.

The first round is projected to be deep in defensive talent, with Carter Yakemchuk – a 6-foot-3, right shot defenseman who scored 30 goals in the WHL – standing out as one of the names who has been mocked to Buffalo in early media drafts.

But there’s no shortage of highly skilled forwards who could go in the top 15, either. That list includes Berkly Catton, Cole Eiserman, Tij Iginla, and Konsta Helenius, among others.

We rounded up some early media opinions in our first Mock Draft Watch of the season, which you can read here.

What does the Sabres' prospect pool look like?

Kevyn Adams made it a priority upon taking over as general manager to replenish the Sabres’ prospect pipeline through the draft. The Sabres have drafted 35 players in four years with Adams at the helm, including seven first-round selections.

Here’s a look at the Sabres' pipeline as it stands:

  • Twelve players who were regulars on Buffalo’s NHL roster last year are under the age of 25 and were drafted in the first two rounds (Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens, Jack Quinn, Zach Benson, Peyton Krebs, Henri Jokiharju, Ryan Johnson, Mattias Samuelsson, JJ Peterka, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen).
  • In addition to Benson – who was drafted 13th last year – three other first-round selections made their NHL debuts for the Sabres last season (Matt Savoie, Jiri Kulich, and Isak Rosen). Kulich and Rosen led Rochester in goals and points, respectively. Savoie is eligible to play in Rochester next season after leading the Western Hockey League in points per game.
  • Noah Ostlund, the 16th-overall pick in 2022, joined Rochester upon the conclusion of his professional season in the Swedish Hockey League, as did 2023 second-round pick Anton Wahlberg. Both players scored goals during the Amerks’ playoff series.

All told, that’s 17 players under the age of 25 who were drafted in the first or second rounds and have already played games at either the NHL or AHL levels - not counting later-round picks such as Rochester defenseman Nikita Novikov and QMJHL Defenseman of the Year Vsevolod Komarov, both of whom are coming off strong seasons of their own.

Can the Sabres trade the pick?

Having laid that foundation to the prospect pool, Adams said during an appearance on WGR 550 in May that the team will be open to the possibility of trading the 11th pick in a move that benefits the NHL roster.

“You need a deep prospect pool,” Adams said. “You need a pipeline of players that can come through your system and replace players that either you have to trade for financial reasons, or they’ve just fallen off, they get older. So, that’s critical. But I laid a plan out three or four years ago now and we stuck to that. We’ve been disciplined. I think our amateur scouts have done a great job of identifying some really good hockey players that we’re excited about.

“We’re in a different phase right now. We need to look at every possible scenario to help our team get better. So, when I talk about winning now, that absolutely comes into play. We’re still not going to do something that doesn’t make sense, but we will definitely talk about that type of move, and does that make sense? And maybe it makes a lot more sense now based on where our roster is and where our prospect pool is than it did one, two, three years ago.”