SUNRISE, Fla. – Coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray disagree over how much the Buffalo Sabres improved in about a whirlwind nine-hour span Friday.
Murray, in keeping with his personality, would only say the Sabres got a little bit better.
“I said, ‘Tim, I think we got more than a little bit better,’” Bylsma said this morning at the NHL Draft inside the BB&T Center. “He said, ‘No, we just got a little bit better.’ That’s certainly true. From the outside, where we started the yesterday morning to the end of the day, a lot changed and a lot was added to the team.”
The Sabres dramatically overhauled their roster, drafting Jack Eichel second overall, adding coveted center Ryan O’Reilly in a blockbuster trade and dealing for goalie Robin Lehner, a likely new starter.
Bylsma, who was hired last month, and Murray had spoken about the direction of the team. The two chatted about O’Reilly two weeks ago. Knowing some big moves could happen made Bylsma “the most anxious I’ve been at the draft.”
“I think you have to have a lot of nerve to pull off a deal,” Bylsma said. “We did give up some young players to make the deal happen. He pulls it off and we’re immediately different in a lot of ways and a better team.”
Eichel and O’Reilly will likely force the Sabres to move a center or two to the wing. Bylsma hinted Zemgus Girgensons, a winger early in his career before moving to the middle, could be switched back. He also mentioned Sam Reinhart.
Bylsma didn’t want to get into line combinations. He acknowledged, however, O’Reilly was the No. 1 center when he thought about some trios.