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Sabres Expansion Draft

The Buffalo Sabres finished with the worst record in the NHL this past season and have finished last in their division five times in the last eight seasons and their NHL odds was also very low. Their last playoff appearance came in the 2010-2011 season.

As the NHL released the expansion protection lists for all 30 teams, there were little surprises on the list for the Sabres. After all, the team has little star power, so they have to protect as much as they can heading into next season.

The forwards that were protected were Anders Bjork, Rasmus Asplund, Tage Thompson, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittlestadt, Jack Eichel, and Sam Reinhart. The Sabres went heavy on protecting the offensive attack. The only defensemen protected were Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, and Rasmus Ristolainen. There was a bit of a question whether or not Ristolainen would be protected over Will Borgen, but they decided to keep the veteran safe. Of the goaltenders, Linus Ullmark was the only one protected.

Of the forwards exposed, Jeff Skinner and Zemgus Girgensons are two prime candidates to be snatched by the Kraken in the draft. However, picking Skinner would also likely come at a price to the Sabres, therefore Girgensons has a significantly greater chance of being selected. Other forwards exposed are Kyle Okposo, CJ Smith, Andrew Ogelevie, Tobias Rieder, Riley Sheahan, and Cody Eakin.


The defenders available to be selected include Matt Irwin, Colin Miller, Brandon Davidson, Jake McCabe, and Will Borgen. Don’t be surprised if the Kraken take the 25-year-old Borgen, compared to the others on the list. However, when compared to the options leaguewide, it would make more sense for the Kraken to look elsewhere.

Of the goalies exposed, Dustin Tokarski, Carter Hutton, and Michael Houser are on the list. Don’t expect the Kraken to take any as there as much better choices available around the league.

When the Kraken made their selections, it was not a big surprise that they went with Borger, who was a fourth-round pick by the Sabres in 2015. He’s played in only 15 NHL games and has yet to record a point in the NHL. However, Borgen has shown to be strong on the defensive end and has impressive physical size and strength.

A very solid NHL player in the making, Borgen is the kind of player that Sabres wish had made it through the expansion draft, but the team could only protect three defensemen. Borgen has the capability of playing many quality minutes covering numerous shifts.

The biggest reason the Sabres left Borgen unprotected over Ristolainen is the potential return in a trade for the 26-year-old veteran. It’s possible that the Sabres believe they can trade Ristolainen for more than the potential value for Borgen. However, it’s a big gamble should the return in a trade be insignificant or if Ristolainen returns to the team. That’s a chance the Sabres took and is something to keep an eye on as the NHL Draft approaches this weekend.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com