Niagara Gazette — Darcy Regier may have been loath to admit it at the time, but fans of the Buffalo Sabres have known since April 3, 2013 that their team was rebuilding.
That's when Regier infamously refused to use the "r-word" after trading captain Jason Pominville, a move that, admittedly or not, shifted the sights of the organization from the playoff chase to the race to the bottom of the standings.
Since then, the Sabres have hoarded so many draft picks and prospects that they might end up on A&E, even as Regier was fired and eventually replaced by Tim Murray.
The rebuild is nearing completion. After drafting Samson Reinhart — which is so much more fun than "Sam" — second overall in this year's draft, the Sabres' prospect pool has been tabbed top in the league almost by consensus.
The final piece to the puzzle is the 2015 draft, which features at least one generational forward talent (Connor McDavid) and possible a second (Jack Eichel). The Sabres own three first-round draft picks (BUF, NYI and STL) in what is being called the deepest draft in years, and under the NHL's current system, a last-place finish guarantees Buffalo would get one of the two with their own pick.
At least for now.
In mid-March, CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported the the NHL was considering changes to its draft lottery, including eliminating how teams are protected from dropping more than one spot. The idea is that taking away the guarantee that a low finish will turn into top talent will keep teams from "tanking", or losing on purpose and aiming for a top draft pick. It's a long-honored tradition in the NBA that has made its way over to the NHL.
Murray is on the record saying that he doesn't think any change to the lottery system would be implemented in time for the 2015 draft, which made sense when there were no viable ideas to replace the current system.