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Sharpen Up: April 9, 2019

Here's what you need to know before the Draft Lottery tonight

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight in Toronto.

It'll consist of three drawings: the first lottery draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the second lottery draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the third lottery draw will determine the club selecting third overall. The results of the Draft Lottery will be revealed live on NBCSN, Sportsnet and TVA Sports during a one-hour show beginning at 8 p.m.

At 8.5 percent, the Sabres have the fifth-best odds to win the first-overall pick. will be on site for coverage of the event so stay tuned for that. Check out a Draft Lottery primer here.

Yesterday, the players cleaned out their lockers and spoke to the media about the season that was.

Here's what you need to know.


Players take responsibility

From our recap of the day…


Kyle Okposo seemed to encapsulate the sentiment of his teammates in describing what it was like to see Phil Housley relieved of his coaching duties.

"That's not an easy day," he said. "That's not an easy thing because it causes you to look in the mirror. You have to. Botts did what he felt was best for the organization, but all of us as players have to look at your game and what you bring to the table and say, 'Could I have done more?' I think that everybody would say, 'Yes.'"


Players were unanimous in taking their share of accountability for Housley's departure when they met the media on Monday morning. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill made the decision to let Housley go on Sunday as a result of the team's lack of success in the second half of the season.

"It's on us," Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. "It's on us in the room. We're the product on the ice so it's unfortunate that that had to happen because Phil's not the one playing the games, and I've said this before. It's on us as players to be better on the ice every night. 

"It just hasn't been good enough. The product on the ice hasn't been good enough. It falls on nobody but ourselves."


Video: LOCKER CLEAN OUT: Reinhart 

Eichel said he never felt a discord with his coach, adding that they communicated often throughout the season. Zach Bogosian praised Housley for his open-door policy. Sam Reinhart and Jason Pominville both said the news on Sunday came as a surprise.

"It was a shock, for sure," Reinhart said. "It's tough as players when you're the ones out there every night. We, as a team, feel responsible. That's all I can say on that, really."


Read lots more on that here. 

Skinner will wait to make a decision


From our story on the pending unrestricted free agent's media scrum...

In his first season with the Buffalo Sabres, Jeff Skinner had a career year and now he has a big decision to make as he approaches unrestricted free agency on July 1. 

Will he return to Buffalo or sign with another team?

As the players addressed the media at KeyBank Center one final time before breaking for summer, the All-Star left winger said he'd take some time to reflect on the season and then evaluate the situation at hand.

"I think there's still talk and I've kind of said all year my focus was here. I'm playing the games and sort of finishing the season. Now that the season is over the questions are obviously going to start coming in but it's been two or three days," he said.

"It's not enough really to give it some proper thought that it deserves. It deserves some reflection, just like any season. We'll take the time to do that right away, but to answer your question, I like it here. I love it here. I like the guys, I like the city. I had a great time."

Skinner scored 40 goals for the first time in his career and tied his personal high of 63 points, set in 2010-11 and matched again in 2016-17. Thirty-two of those goals came at even strength and seven were game winners (three in overtime).

However, the disappointment of missing the playoffs outweighed any personal successes he achieved.

"For me, I want to win. It's obviously not a good feeling where we are right now. We didn't accomplish our goal," he said. "You go through the season and if you don't accomplish your goal, you're disappointed. It's not a good feeling, and then you go into the summer, you reflect and you figure out what you can do better to help the team next year and make sure that doesn't happen."

Here's the full story including comments from Botterill, Eichel and Reinhart.

Pominville has not made a decision on his future, either

Video: LOCKER CLEANOUT: Pominville

The fomer Sabres captain addressed reporters for the final time before summer… 

Jason Pominville ranked fourth on the Sabres with 16 goals and tallied 31 points in 73 games this season. Still, the 36-year-old winger said he will take time to ponder what's next with the potential of unrestricted free agency awaiting him this summer. 

"I feel good," he said. "I feel comfortable, my body feels good, I feel like I can play. I definitely need time and I guess we'll go from there."

Pominville said that as of Monday morning he had not discussed his future with Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. (They were scheduled to conduct their exit meeting later in the afternoon.)

Here's that full story.

More player exit interviews


Video: LOCKER CLEANOUT: Ristolainen

Video: LOCKER CLEAN OUT: Mittelstadt

Video: LOCKER CLEANOUT: Rodrigues

View More