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Botterill recaps a 'balanced' Draft, looks ahead to free agency

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - Following a busy six weeks of getting to know a brand new scouting staff and preparing a list of prospects, Jason Botterill's first Draft as an NHL general manager is officially in the books. It began with the selection of Casey Mittelstadt on Friday and ended with Linus Weissbach being taken in the seventh round on Saturday. 

In between, the Sabres took who they believe to be a high-end forward in Marcus Davidsson and used other picks to begin replenishing organizational depth at the goalie and defense positions. All in all, Botterill seemed fairly pleased with his first go-around. 

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Sabres begin to restock goaltending cupboard with pick of Luukkonen

2nd-round pick was top-rated European goalie

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - Jason Botterill said the Sabres would look to replenish their goalie depth in the Draft if the right opportunity presented itself, but added that they weren't going to force the issue. 

Enter Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, whom the Sabres liked enough to make him the second goalie selected when they took him with the No. 54 pick, their second of Round 2, on Saturday morning. Luukkonen was the top-ranked European goalie by NHL Central Scouting Services.

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2017 NHL Draft Day 2 Recap

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

CHICAGO - The Buffalo Sabres selected five players on the second day of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center in Chicago. These five selections join Buffalo's first-round pick, forward Casey Mittelstadt, to complete the team's 2017 draft class, which includes three forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender.

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Botterill: Sabres were excited to select Mittelstadt at eight

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Botterill After Rd 1 (6/23/17)

Jason Botterill After Round 1

Jason Botterill meets with the media after selecting Casey Mittelstadt 8th overall at the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago

  • 08:32 •

CHICAGO - As big as Friday night was for the prospects in attendance for the NHL Draft at United Center, it also held significance for Jason Botterill. The eighth overall selection would be Botterill's first as an NHL general manager. 

Luckily for him, there wasn't much suspense. While the first seven picks may have surprised some, he felt they went nearly exactly as his staff had expected, perhaps save for one minor surprise. But once Botterill and the Sabres were on the clock, there wasn't even need for discussion.

The Sabres used the eighth pick to select center Casey Mittelstadt out of Eden Prairie High School and Green Bay of the USHL.

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Sabres select Mittelstadt in 1st round of 2017 NHL Draft

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - What was billed as an unpredictable first round lived up to the hype. That is at least if you ask Casey Mittelstadt, who watched in uncertainty as names ticked off the board at United Center one-by-one until Jason Botterill finally announced that the Buffalo Sabres had selected him with the eighth pick on Friday night.

Mittelstadt had met with the Sabres while he was in Buffalo for the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month, but even that didn't quell his uncertainty.

"To be honest, I really wasn't sure. You go to the combine and you get some easy interviews, some hard interviews," Mittelstadt said, donning his Sabres sweater for the first time. "It's really hard to tell. No one really gives you [an indication] one way or the other. I really had no idea, but I was thrilled to go here."

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Who could the Sabres take at 8?

A look at some of the top prospects who could be available

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

CHICAGO - The Buffalo Sabres are set to make a selection with the eighth overall pick in tonight's first round of the 2017 NHL Draft and two big questions loom. Who will be there and which prospect will Jason Botterill select in his first draft as general manager of the Sabres.

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Botterill talks Sabres' strategy on morning of Draft Day

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Botterill Pre-Draft (6/23/17)

Jason Botterill's Pre-Draft Interview

Sabres general manager Jason Botterill speaks the media before the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago

  • 09:47 •

CHICAGO - It's Draft Day, and while a flurry of trades are happening throughout the NHL as of Friday afternoon, the Sabres are still set to pick with the eighth overall selection at United Center come tonight. 

That can change, of course, and Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said the team is prepared for all possibilities entering the first round. 

"We'll look at different scenarios about possibly moving up or moving back, but right now our mindset is we're going to be choosing at eight," he said. "I think [the amateur scouting staff has] done a good job in sort of making sure that no matter how the draft plays out - [teams] go defense, go forward - we're going to be prepared and were going to like the player that we go with."

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What we learned at NHL Draft Media Day

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - Even while answering questions from a crowd of reporters in the pouring rain, it's hard to imagine there being anywhere other than Chicago that hockey's top prospects would rather be on Thursday night.

Besides, with barely 24 hours to go until their futures are decided at United Center on Friday, media day on the Chicago River served as a welcome distraction. Most of the prospects were in agreement that the reality of their situation was only now starting to set in.

"A little bit, yeah," Mississauga forward Owen Tippett said. "You try not to think about it too much. I'm not really picky, just trying to be grateful and thankful for whatever team picks me."

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Baker's Next Baker's Dozen for 2017

Which prospects just missed making Kris Baker's Top 31 list?

by Kris Baker @SabresProspects /

You've read through Kris Baker's Top 31 prospects in the 2017 NHL Draft (and if you haven't, what are you waiting for? Check it out here), and now we've asked Kris to give us another baker's dozen-worth of prospects you should know about.

The Sabres currently hold two second-round picks (37th and 54th overall) on Saturday. Could those picks be used on any of these prospects?

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Draft notebook: DiPietro credits family for success in net

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

No, Michael DiPietro is not related to former New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, and yes, he does get that a lot. But it was a family member who first encouraged him to play goalie, the position at which he developed into one of the top prospects in this year's draft. 

DiPietro, a defenseman at first, remembers attending a game at age 9 in which his step brother, Mark Fenty, was between the pipes. Something clicked when DiPietro watched his brother make a breakaway save. He noticed for the first time how the entire momentum of a game could change with one stop, and he knew he wanted the ability to make that same type of impact. 

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