In preparation for Sunday's draft and the start of free agency on July 5, I've been going back and re-listening to some of the interviews that various members of the Sabres organization have given in recent weeks, and one line in particular caught my ear.
While listening to Terry Pegula's chat on June 18th with Kevin Sylvester and Andrew Peters on Sabres Hockey Hotline, a line jumped out at me that I missed the first time around. Pegula was talking about the success of the Bruins as a hard working team that get along with each other, and Peters asked the Sabres owner if he saw enough hard workers on the Sabres or if they needed to continue to add in that department - here's Pegula's response:
"When we're drafting, from now on, that's number one - will this kid work? We've got some tremendous young workers on our team that just have it automatically. Can you teach somebody to work? I think you can. It's nice if they have it from day one, isn't it?"
Hard workers - that's the number one attribute the team is looking for, according to the owner. Now, I'm not sure how much, if any, say Pegula has in the draft room or targeting free agents, and I have not heard Regier or the team's Director of Amateur Scouting Kevin Devine say the same thing with as much conviction. However, it seems that the Sabres (according to Pegula) are more likely to go after the guy with a bit less talent but a better work ethic from here on out.
Pegula went out of his way to praise Zemgus Girgensons as a player who exemplifies this standard, and I think most of us on DBTB are pretty excited about his development. The re-signing of Mike Weber yesterday is another step in the direction of bringing back the hardest working team in hockey.
Does this information change who you think the Sabres might target in the first round? Or do you think the Sabres will still go after the highest talent available, regardless of work ethic concerns? Either way, Sunday can't come soon enough.