PHILADELPHIA – Brendan Lemieux didn’t think he’d end up in Buffalo after his combine interview with the Sabres in May.
Sabres general manager Tim Murray and the hockey department asked tough questions and many of the prospects coming out of those meetings said Buffalo was one of the harder interviews in the League.
It turns out Lemieux had similar feelings.
“I thought it was my worst interview. They weren’t easy on me but I guess they liked the way I reacted,” he said after being selected by Buffalo with the first pick of the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft on Saturday.
Partly because of that interview, Buffalo wasn’t really on his radar entering the draft.
That’s how some interviews go. He thought it was tough and we thought it was great. We thought he responded very well to some tough questions. - Tim Murray
“I was one of those guys trying to figure out for a long time where I was going to go. You don’t know and nobody really knew but I had no idea,” he said. “I had no idea I would drop out of the first round. I had no idea I’d be picked this morning. I walked in the arena like two minutes before I got picked. I had no idea.”
While Lemieux may have been disappointed with his performance in that combine interview, Murray liked what he heard.
“I know that he felt that. We didn’t feel that. We felt that it was outstanding. We made it uncomfortable for him a little bit, fairly,” he said. “We went after him a little bit about his relationship with teammates and different things. So I assume he didn’t think that Buffalo was going to draft him at all.
“And that’s how some interviews go. He thought it was tough and we thought it was great. We thought he responded very well to some tough questions.”
Murray said he also challenged first-round pick Sam Reinhart during the interview process and rehashed some of those conversations on Saturday.
“I didn’t get involved in a lot of interviews. I did on Reinhart. I asked him about that today. I questioned him on leadership and different things that he responded very well [to],” he said. “I questioned Lemieux on his character and how he gets along with teammates and different things like that and I thought that he responded well too. But I could see that he thought it was a tough one maybe.”
Murray said that the Sabres had Lemieux in their Top 30 and that the combination of his tenacious style and offensive upside made him a very appealing prospect.
Lemieux, who models his game after his father Claude – an infamous agitator – is going to use the perceived slight of being passed on in the first round as extra motivation to progress his career.
“Definitely I was disappointed. I expected to be a first-round pick and never even really looked at the second round,” he said. “But that being said, things have a way of working out and I think it could be a blessing in disguise that I had to wait it out. I’m proud to be picked with the first pick of the second round and I’m just going to use it as fuel now.”