- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Tim Murray wasn’t in the mood and didn’t have the time to outline the Buffalo Sabres’ long list of needs heading into the NHL draft this weekend.

So the first-time general manager settled on providing a brief and blunt answer.

“I don’t know if I want to sit here this long,” Murray said, with a sigh. “We have needs everywhere.”

Murray would be acutely aware of that after spending his first six months in Buffalo completing a purge of veteran players that contributed to one of the Sabres’ worst seasons. Buffalo (21-51-10) finished last in the NHL standings, and set a franchise record for losses.


The overhaul began in February, when Buffalo traded goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott, and it didn’t end until last week, when the Sabres waived underperforming forward Ville Leino for the purpose of buying out the final three years of his contract.

With the deconstruction all but complete, it is now on Murray to start the rebuilding phase at the draft in Philadelphia.

The Sabres open with the No. 2 pick on Friday, and follow with seven more selections - including three second-rounders - over the final six rounds on Saturday.

Murray expects defenseman Aaron Ekblad to be selected first. That would leave the Sabres in position to choose between three highly regarded center prospects, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl.

All three have the potential to make the immediate jump to the NHL next season, and they would help address the Sabres’ most pressing need on offense. Buffalo scored just 150 goals to set a post-NHL-expansion-era low.

Murray also isn’t ruling out the possibility of landing an additional first-round pick.

“I’ve been trying hard to do that,” Murray said last week during the team’s pre-draft news conference. “The people I’ve talked to, they haven’t said, ‘No.’ But nobody’s called back and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this deal.’ But I’ve got a lot of potential deals out there.”

Murray has several options. He has a stockpile of draft picks - including three first-rounders next year - that could be used in making a trade.

The Sabres also have plenty of space under the salary cap, making Buffalo attractive to teams interested in freeing up payroll. Murray said he would be willing to acquire a player with a hefty contract as long as the other team also throws in a first-round selection.

As active as Murray hopes to be at the draft, he is taking a patient approach toward rebuilding his roster.

Rather than expecting the Sabres to be transformed into immediate winners next season, Murray has set his sights on the team being more competitive.

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