Sabres and Leafs file for permission to hire Mike Babcock

It's certainly now a three-team race to hire Mike Babcock, and he says he'll make his decision by Wednesday the 20th.

During yesterday afternoon's game between the Rangers and Lightning, some big news was confirmed about two teams far from the playoff picture.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet dropped some Babcock knowledge during the intermission of last night's broadcast, and according to the insider, we're officially down to a three team race between the Sabres, Maple Leafs, and Red Wings.

BabWatch looks like it's heading towards its conclusion, we're expecting it this week. As of last night, only two teams had officially filed for permission, agreeing to give up compensation if they hired Mike Babcock and that was Toronto and Buffalo.

Of course, Detroit is still in the mix and can simply retain Babcock with a new contract, but the Sabres and Leafs would have to give up a third round pick should the Wings agree to let their coach walk. The Sabres don't have a third round pick in this year's draft, so that pick would likely come from next year's draft, where the Sabres currently have have four third-rounders.

Friedman continues:

Now it's believed that the Sabres are putting together a big pitch, that doesn't mean they're going to get him, however, it does look like we're finally heading to a conclusion this week.

The teams filed this paperwork last week, which is why they were allowed to talk to Babcock in the first place, but according to Friedman, Buffalo and Toronto are so far the only teams to do so.

Babcock is the most highly sought-after free agent on the market this offseason (sorry, Andrej Meszaros) and would help lend legitimacy to the Sabres rebuild by both his presence and coaching acumen. Wouldn't you think the Sabres would look much more attractive to any free agents over the summer knowing the man generally regarded as the best coach in the league is behind the bench?

Whatever Babcock's decision is, we'll know soon. The deadline he set for himself is Wednesday the 20th, so just a few more days, Sabres fans. Check out the video below.