Buffalo Sabres News: NHL Draft, AHL Affiliates

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Good morning, Buffalo Sabres fans! It’s another off day for the Sabres, who return home to host the New Jersey Devils on Friday before visiting the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The NHL season is really winding down, with less than a month to go in the regular season. It’s crazy to think how fast this season has seemingly gone, despite the Sabres’ losing ways…. it feels like it was just October, and now, we’re heading into the postseason already.

One of the highlights of the postseason – aside from the playoffs and Stanley Cup, of course – is the NHL draft.

We all know that the top two names heading into this year’s draft are Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (look for a piece on him later today at Sabrenoise). But what about the other guys? After all, there will be 30 players selected in the first round, and it’s considered a great depth year in the draft.

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This morning, I present to you, loyal SabreNoise readers, two profiles from around the Internet about a pair of NHL draft prospects who don’t have the names McDavid or Eichel.

First, a piece from The Hockey Writers on Noah Hanifin. Hanifin actually played in Buffalo, when the All-American Prospects Game was held here in September. He’s a Boston College defenseman who ranked third in the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings, and he’ll be a solid pickup for whichever team selects him in June.

Next, a piece from NHL.com highlighting London Knights forward Mitch Marner, who’s been consistently ranked in the top 10 slots and is likely to picked high this June. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the McDavid/Eichel hype, but just keep in mind, there are plenty of other good players heading into the draft and while the Sabres likely won’t pick them up, they’ll still be guys to watch in the future.

Down in the pipeline that is the American Hockey League, more team changes are coming. While the Buffalo Sabres will be staying with the Rochester Americans, many teams are facing changes in their AHL affiliates.

Take, for instance, the Montreal Canadiens, who announced last week that their AHL affiliate is moving to St. John’s, Newfoundland. The team currently in St. John’s, the Jets affiliate, is moving to Winnipeg.

But more changes are also coming, starting with the Portland Pirates.

The former affiliates of the Buffalo Sabres, who have recently been linked with the Arizona Coyotes, will now be affiliated with the Florida Panthers.

According to Rob Sanderson of WHTK, this is just one piece of a four-part swap that will eventually be announced.

San Antonio, formerly affiliated with Florida, will be picked up by the Colorado Avalanche; the Lake Erie Monsters will join with Columbus, and the Coyotes will pick up the Springfield Falcons as their AHL affiliate.

At the moment, these changes don’t mean a whole lot, but next season, it’ll be like getting to know a whole bunch of teams for the first time. Don’t forget all the teams relocating from the ECHL to the AHL and shifting of affiliations in the Western Conference.

From Bleacher Report this morning, a look at some of the biggest surprise players in the NHL this season. Spoiler alert for probably absolutely no one: no Sabres players made the list.

Finally, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, the uncle of Sabres GM Tim Murray, wants to spread awareness about cancer as he continues his battle with stage 4 colon cancer, diagnosed back in November.

Give ’em hell, Murray. We’re all rooting for you.

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