Mar 20, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) skates with the puck against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rexall Place. Buffalo Sabres won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Importance Of The Buffalo Sabres' 1st-Round Pick

The NHL Draft takes place in just over a month. The draft will be held on June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia, PA. The Buffalo Sabres will have (presumably) one first-round selection in this year’s draft, the 2nd-overall pick. Here’s three reasons why this pick is particularly important to the Sabres’ organization.

1. The Buffalo Sabres only have one first-round selection this year (as of now.)

Just a few weeks ago, there was potential that the Sabres could have had up to three first-round selections in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. How great would that have been? Unfortunately, now it’s down to just one. The Sabres lost the rights to the first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues when the Blues a) failed to make it to the Western Conference Finals and b) decided not to sign former Sabres netminder Ryan Miller.

The Buffalo Sabres could also have potentially had the New York Islanders’ first-round pick in this year’s draft. As per the terms of the Thomas Vanek trade, the Islanders had the option of giving the Sabres their first-round selection in either the 2014 or 2015 draft. The Islanders will pick fifth in this year’s draft, and they’ve elected to keep that one. This isn’t a move that surprises me. After all, fifth overall is a great place to pick; passing that up would be like the Islanders saying “Well, we know we have fifth this year, but maybe we’ll do worse next year and get to pick higher then instead!”

Naturally, they’ve kept the 2014 pick. This leaves the Sabres with just one first-round selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, so it will be especially important since it’s their only shot at the first-round prospects, and it’s a high shot.

2. This is the highest the Buffalo Sabres have picked since 1987.

The Sabres have selected first-overall twice in franchise history. They selected Gilbert Perreault in 1970 before picking up Pierre Turgeon in 1987. Aside from those two, their highest pick in a non-supplemental draft was selecting Rick Martin 5th overall in 1971.

With the second overall pick this year, the Sabres have the potential to pick up a future star player. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at some of the players in NHL history who have been selected with the second-overall pick in the draft.

3. This is the Buffalo Sabres’ first draft selection since 1997 with a new general manager.

When the Buffalo Sabres pick second-overall on June 27 in Philadelphia, that will mark a momentous occasion in franchise history. It will be the first Sabres draft pick chosen by a general manager other than Darcy Regier since 1997.

Obviously, the GM is not the sole decider on draft selections. Coaches, staff and scouts have a lot of input, but this selection will shine some light on Tim Murray. He’s already made a splash in the NHL with moves like shipping Ryan Miller out and trading Steve Ott. Now, this is his time to show what he can do in the draft, and a high pick like this will be a great opportunity for him to make his first draft selection as Sabres GM.

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