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Could The Sabres Trade Up In The First Round?



The Buffalo Sabres are set to add another significant prospect at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville next week, but GM Kevyn Adams has the draft capital and organizational depth to make a move higher in the first round if the Sabres have specifically targeted someone.

Buffalo has the 13th overall selection, two second-round picks (Philadelphia’s at #39 from the Rasmus Ristolainen trade, and their own at #45), and a third-round pick from Los Angeles (acquired in March for the signing rights to goaltender Erik Portillo).

It is improbable that Chicago, Anaheim, Columbus, or San Jose would trade out of the top-four slots, and the potential for a trade-up to Montreal (#5) would likely require more than a second-rounder, but both Arizona (#6) or Philadelphia (#7) are rebuilding and are looking for extra picks in what is considered a deep draft.

The more probable scenario would be for the Sabres to trade one of their seconds to move up to Detroit at #9 or St. Louis at #10. This might be plausible if Adams sees someone like Ryan Leonard or Oliver Moore of the US National Development Program, or University of Connecticut forward Matthew Wood moving down the draft board, but feels that they will not make it to #13. Those forwards falling could happen if teams pick wildcards like winger Matvei Michkov or defenseman David Reinbacher higher than expected.

Moving up more three or four slots would likely require dealing Philadelphia’s pick near the top of the second round.

Bridge For Power?

There continues to be chatter regarding a deal between the Sabres and Calder Trophy nominee Owen Power. The 20-year-old is entering the final year of his three-year entry-level contract and after leading all NHL defensive rookies in scoring and is eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1. Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News reported earlier this week that while the Sabres would like to get the 2021 top overall pick signed to an eight-year max deal, Power’s representatives may be looking to sign a shorter-term extension similar to Rasmus Dahlin’s three-year, $18 million bridge deal. That would give Power more runway to put up bigger offensive numbers similar to Dahlin, who will likely sign a long-term deal in excess of $10 million per season.