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Sharpen Up: June 17, 2019

Here's what you need to know on the Monday before the NHL Draft

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

It's finally here. The 2019 NHL Draft will kick off on Friday in Vancouver. We'll have full coverage for you here on and on our social media platforms. 

Look out for our first Draft Preview video featuring Brian Duff and Martin Biron today.

Here's what you need to know. 


Draft Coverage

Who could the Sabres select at 7? Will Cole Caufield or Alex Turcotte still be available? What about Matthew Boldy, Kirby Dach or Dylan Cozens? Could it be someone else entirely? 

 We profiled each of them last week here on 

We'll have lots more draft coverage coming for you this week, including (as mentioned a few sentences ago) a series of Draft Preview videos featuring the dynamic duo of Duffer and Marty.  

You can also find everything at on at our Draft Central page.

Sabres Chatroom: Draft Week Edition

What are you looking forward to the most this week?

Andrew Peters, The Instigators Host: The Instigators Draft Party on Friday at (716) at 6:30.

Tweet from @TheInstigator76: Who wants one? See you at the Draft Party on 6/21 @716FoodandSport 630PM

Martin Biron, Sabres TV Analyst: First of all, I am excited to see who the Sabres will be picking at No. 7. There are so many great players available, different types of players - big and strong, small and fast - and seeing what the Sabres are going to do with the pick is very intriguing. 

It's also very interesting to see what trades (if any) will be made around the NHL at the draft. With a few teams having issues with their salary cap situation, there could be some unexpected movement ahead of free agency on July 1. 

Lastly, I am interested to see where USNTDP goalie Spencer Knight will get drafted. Only two goalies were selected in the first round over the last six years, and no goalies have been picked in the top 10 since Carey Price went fifth-overall in 2005. Knight could go top 10 and is a lock for the first round, but what team will take a goalie in the first round???

Chris Ryndak, Editor's Note: Marty's grammar has been cleaned up quite a bit.

Peters: What I really look forward to most is the same at every draft: All the smoke, but no fire in sight. 

All the rumours (spelled it like that because the draft is in CA, eh, and it's the best music album known to man)… but seriously, how many times have we heard it and it never happens?

I honestly don't know if I believe what I just wrote. Except for the Fleetwood Mac plug though. Great album.

JJ Territo, The Instigators Producer: I haven't weighed in on one of these yet, but this one is important to me. Every year, I look forward to the draft as the proverbial start to the new season. It's a time of hope. Hope for the future with the addition of new prospects and hope for the present with the potential for trades. 

There's always a lot of unknown heading into the NHL Draft weekend, and this year there's only one thing you can count on: The Instigators will be there...for the fans. 

What better way to start a brand-new season than to kick back and enjoy some ice-cold wobbly pops and take in some legendary stories from The Instigators. Join the boys at (716) Food and Sport on Friday for a legendary night. Sure the draft will be on, but the real show will be the live hot stove featuring some very special guests. 

Tweet from @TheInstigators: Draft stories + draft beers = a great night 🍻See you at @716FoodandSport June 21stReserve your table here:

I know what you're thinking; this couldn't get any better. How about free swag? Lots of it. 

Don't miss this one and only chance to get some limited-edition Instigators swag. Just in time for golf season, we'll have Instigator hats, golf balls, golf towels, and polos. If you missed your chance to get a "Dis or Dat" or "Brutal" T-shirt last year, we'll have some of those too. 

And I'm not sure what happened, but all this stuff came in royal blue this year. Oops!

Come join us for a draft you'll probably forget and a night you'll always remember. Go Sabres.

Ryndak: Man, that draft party sounds pretty great. 

As for the rest of the weekend, now that Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Gregory has retired from his draft hosting duties, roll call will never be the same.

So I guess I'm looking forward to the inevitable moment during Day 2 when a team has to take a timeout and the whole arena boos them for it. 

Jourdon LaBarber, If months of mock drafts have taught us anything, it's that nobody has any idea how this thing is going to go beyond Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. 

There are 13 or so players who could be picked in the top 10 without it being a surprise. That makes it an exciting time to be picking seventh, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the dominoes fall in picks one through six.

Does the amount of offensive talent available allow a guy like Bowen Byram, who most view as the top defenseman in the draft, to fall? How much has Cole Caufield's stock risen after a 72-goal campaign and MVP at U18 Worlds? Do teams go for the playmaking ability of Alex Turcotte, Matthew Boldy or Trevor Zegras? The power forward potential of Kirby Dach or Dylan Cozens? 

Video: 2019 NHL Scouting Combine Recap

Bonus: This draft should be an exciting time for the future of USA Hockey. There were 16 players from the US National Team Development Program at the combine, including Elmira native John Beecher and Clarence Center native Case McCarthy, both of whom grew up rooting for the Sabres.

We could see up to eight first-round picks come out of the program, with Hughes, Caufield, Boldy, Zegras, Alex Turcotte, Spencer Knight, Cam York and Alex Vlasic all having been mocked among the top 31.

Brian Duff, Sabres TV Host: I'm really upset that I'm missing the Instigators Draft Party at 716. Wait a minute. I'll be in Vancouver for almost a week. 

Never mind.

I'd love to tell you what I'm most looking forward to, but I'm actually taking online courses in revisionist history these days so I'll have to chime in again next Monday and let you know what was truly special about this draft and the entire week(end). 


Coaching staff is in place

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger made two hires on Friday, bringing in Don Granato and Mike Bales as assistant coaches. They'll join Steve Smith on the coaching staff.

Granato spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks after serving as the associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin during the 2016-17 season.

Bales joins the Sabres with six seasons of experience as a goaltending coach in the National Hockey League. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, during which the team recorded an 82-64-18 regular-season record.

Martin Biron played with Bales in Rochester and shared why he thinks Bales will be a great fit as an assistant.

Skinner was in town

Fresh off signing his eight-year contract extension to remain with the Sabres, Jeff Skinner was in Buffalo to speak with the media about the deal and why he wanted to stay. 


"The top things on my list were all the positive things about Buffalo," Skinner said. "…I love it here and I had a great time last year," he said. "Obviously, disappointed with the result, but when you're sort of looking at the overall picture, I had a great time and a great experience with everything - with teammates, with the fans, with the community, everyone in the organization. 

"Obviously, I just didn't feel the need to get to [free agency] because I like it here and I didn't feel like it needed to get to that point where I wanted to look elsewhere."

You can read the full story here.

He also joined The Instigators on Thursday. If he's going on vacation with Craig Rivet, are they flying first class or on a private jet? Skinner's answer may (or may not) surprise you. 

Want to do this again tomorrow? Why not, right? Sharpen Up will be back daily this week as we get ready for the 2019 NHL Draft.

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