Tim Murray was troubled. He was just made a member of an exclusive club; NHL General Manager. He was charged with a difficult job: make the Buffalo Sabres relevant again. He had wheeled and dealed at the trade deadline, picking up prospects and draft choices, while unloading potential free agents that would not return to Buffalo. Now his next major test was approaching; the NHL Draft.
All season long the team had played like crap, tanking the season, as if by design, to get a high draft choice. It had worked twice for Pittsburgh; once to get Lemeiux and, more recently, to get Crosby and Malkin. Both times Pittsburgh had won the Cup, so it is a strategy worth copying.
Now he had the second pick overall and the pressure was on to select an impact player, who could lead the Sabres to the Promised Land: the playoffs to start, and the Cup. He was sitting in his office, staring at his computer, eating a bowl of gruel, pondering his choices: Reinhart, Bennett or Draisaitl. Suddenly, walking through his door, came the ghostly apparition of Seymour Knox. "Tim", the ghostly Seymour said, "This could be the most important draft for the Sabres since 1970."
"Yes, Mr. Knox, I know", Tim replied. "I have narrowed it down to three players."
"Yeah", Seymour retorted, "You, and every mock drafter on the Internet. You need to prove that Pegula was smart to hire you. Remember, an owner is only as smart as the people he hires. I thought I was smart in my hires, but we never won the Cup. And you know how smart Ralph Wilson was; fired the only GM to almost lead hs team to the title. You need help. Three spirits will visit you. Expect the first when the clock strikes one."
"Couldn’t they all come at once? I really need my sleep."
Seymour stood and headed for the door. "Expect the first at one" he repeated and walked through the door.
Tim figured he’d had some bad wings and thought about it no more. He was dozing at his desk when he heard a voice.
"Tim! Wake up!"
Tim opened his eyes and gaped at the site in front of him. A grizzled older chap stared back at him. He wore a suit and a checker pork pie hat and had a bemused look about him.
"Punch Imlach. What are you doing here?"
"I am here to help. You can’t blow this pick. I wore out my knees praying for the first pick and got Perrault, then Martin, then Schoeny and Ramsay. We went to the finals in five years based on those picks. Unfortunately I followed them up with Joe Kowal, the regrettable Morris Titanic and picked Ric Seiling instead of Mike Bossy."
"A lot of teams missed on Bossy", Tim replied.
"Yeah, I was getting old" Punch sighed. " In any event, choose wisely. This pick can make or break the team."
"Thanks Punch. Any other advice?"
"Yeah, don’t piss off your goalie during the finals. The SOB could up and quit. I’ve got to run; I’m having beers with Martin and Spinner Spencer. Pick Reinhart; you can’t have too many smart players and that kid has good hockey smarts".
With that, Punch was gone. Tim figured it was a weird dream and fell back asleep.
The next thing he knew he was facing a larger figure, with a scowl on his face, chewing ice.
"Scotty Bowman! What are you doing here?" Tim said.
"Seymour asked me to give you the benefit of my advice. I’ve won Cups with almost every team I’ve been with. St. Louis didn’t stand a chance, but I should have won one with Buffalo.’
"So what is your advice?", Tim asked.
"Don’t overestimate yourself. I thought I was so smart; trading aging stars for first round picks. Very few others had done that. It almost worked. I got Housley, Andreychuk and Barrasso. I figured all those Cups I won made me smart."
"Yeah", Tim replied. "Steve Patrick, Norm LaCombe and Mikael Andersson did nothing for your reputation. And Jiri Dudacek never even saw the Aud."
"Dudachek did see the Aud", Scotty replied in a huff. "Unfortunately, it was with the Czech national team. He took one look around and never came back."
"So who should I pick?", Tim asked.
"Draistl", Scotty replied. "You can’t teach size. Let him become your Andreychuk and use him wisely."
With that, Bowman disappeared.
"That’s it" Tim thought. "No more wings with Genny Cream Ale this late in the day."
With that, the ghost of Darcy Regier appear.
"Darcy? Really?" Tim asked. "You had fourteen years here; and, other than Vanek, Myers and maybe Stafford, you were terrible at drafting."
"True", Darcy replied, "However, I was good at trading. Draft Sam Bennett. A ‘Doug Gilmore’ type can work with anyone. Then, beat the bushes and find the hidden gems". And with that Darcy disappeared, apparently heading towards Phoenix.
With that, Tim fell into a deep sleep and woke up after the NHL draft was completed (just kidding. I hope he selects Reinhart and finds Darcy’s hidden gems).