'And so it was that Slava Kozlov was the biggest name traded at this year's NHL draft – not just for the Buffalo Sabres, mind you, but for the entire league. Yippee.'
'"We hope they're all going to develop, but I don't think there's any kid we feel is going to jump out of the pack right away. "If they show us they can do some things in training camp, they'll get the opportunity. But it's very, very hard to do."'
'While Paille grew up cheering for the Montreal Canadiens and not the nearby Sabres, he attended many games at the Memorial Auditorium and the HSBC Arena. Growing up he remembers being fans of snipers Pat Lafontaine and Alexander Mogilny. "I was a Habs fans, but I went to a lot of Sabres' games," he said. "My dad is probably really happy right now. He'll be at every game."'
'Wideman decided not to attend this year's draft. He will play another season with the Knights.'
'Paille, one of the most solid hitters available in the draft, was rated 17th in the mid-season rankings by Central Scouting but was inconsistent at times this season, notably in the early going when he started to hear talk of his draft ranking and let it affect his play.'
'The former Welland Cougars centre, who netted 57 points in 64 regular season games with Guelph last season, earned praise by NHLCentral Scouting. On the report list on www.nhl.com Paille is considered a strong skater with impressive speed, a solid two-way player with natural offensive instincts with very good puckhandling and passing skills.'
'The Sabres were happy to essentially swap Kozlov for Hecht, who is younger, healthier, bigger and cheaper.'
'Buffalo's scouting department, however, had him rated 10th overall.'
'"I thought I'd go between 20 and 30 or 20 and 40," Ballard said.'
'Ballard, who was rated 19th among North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Service, had 10 goals and 13 assists for the Gophers last season. Like Erickson, he plans to return to school and defend the national championship.'
'Hecht has offensive skills, but he didn't bring them to work often enough, especially down the stretch when Edmonton was scrambling to make the playoffs.'
'To wit: They are the conduit to contraction. If the other 29 owners agreed to pony up the $150 million and fold the franchise, all debts could be settled, the doors closed, and a draft held to divvy up the talent in the Sabres system. Could there be a bigger bargaining chip to bring to the table with the Players' Association than a franchise that just went lights out?'
'Kozlov, 30, went to Buffalo in Detroit's deal for Dominik Hasek last offseason, but was lost for the season on Dec. 29 when his left Achilles tendon was sliced by a skate. "We've talked to the doctors and everything is fine now," Waddell said.'
'In the process, Buffalo shed Kozlov's $2.35 million salary, while Hecht will make $575,000 next season…"Let's face it, there are economics," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said. "Another factor was the likelihood of having to deal Kozlov at next year's trading deadline, or risk losing him to free agency. I'm a lot more comfortable with the younger player we will have for the foreseeable future," Regier said. "And we got more value now than we would have at the deadline."'
'Atlanta also acquired Buffalo's 41st overall pick in the draft in exchange for the 31st and 82nd selections.'