Sabres Lose Lottery, Disappointment In Drafting Second

It was a tough season for Sabres fans, and losing the NHL draft lottery is just another defeat.

I waited 24 hours to see if my feelings on the NHL draft lottery results would subside, but they haven't. When the Willy Wonka card was pulled to announce the Edmonton Oilers the winner of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, my reaction could have been filmed and posted on YouTube, potentially garnering an obscene amount of views. My response may have been incredulous and ridiculous to the passive browser.

Maybe I am a pessimist. Maybe I am greedy. I wanted the Buffalo Sabres to win the rights to draft McDavid first overall. When experts are projecting him to be the best player to enter the NHL in the last three decades, I feel that my reaction is justified. Sure, Jack Eichel is expected to be a special talent in his own right, but when one player is being compared to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, and the other is said to have the ceiling of Jason Spezza, the choice is glaringly obvious.

Being a fan of a Buffalo team carries a level of entitlement. We have suffered great sports injustices, so we are owed someone like McDavid for once, right? Wrong.

The Edmonton Oilers won the lottery for the first overall pick, for the fourth time in six drafts. The Sabres, the worst team in the league two years straight, lost the rights to the top choice both times. I understand that Buffalo had 80% odds at losing, but the Oilers had far worse odds. Now, McDavid gets to be chosen by a team that is a proven blackhole for talent recently. His reaction showed that he was visibly disappointed. The reaction of Sabres General Manager Tim Murray was equally as telling.

"I am disappointed for our fans," Murray was quoted as saying to a member of the Toronto Sun following the annoucement of the draft positions. Not exactly leaving much to take out of context. This tank was started by former GM Darcy Regier, clearly with McDavid in mind, when the "suffering" comments were uttered. It became even more blatantly obvious that McDavid was the goal when Murray professed his undying obsession with McDavid to the New York Times.

I can understand Sabres fans being content with Eichel as the consolation prize. After two years of utter miserable hockey, any beacon of hope is welcomed at this point. Right now, I don't share the sentiment. I did not want to suffer through the last few seasons, watching all of our notable names being moved out, watching night after night of mediocre hockey, just to be awarded the second best player in this draft. Being okay with that, to me, is akin to being okay with coming in second to the Dallas Stars in 1999. It it like being okay with Scott Norwood sending a field goal wide right in 1990.

Sure, Jack Eichel is projected to be a very good player. Compare that to Connor McDavid, who is already better than Sidney Crosby, at the same age. Based on that, why should I be content with the lottery results? Granted, either of these players could become the next Alexander Daigle, but it isn't likely.

Remember when you were a kid, and that special toy that you wanted for Christmas? The toy that you knew would be hard for your parents to get, that the odds were against them getting it? The toy that you knew if you got it, would instantly vault you to the envy of your friends? Then, on Christmas day, you opened the box hoping would be that toy, but it was just an article of clothing? Jack Eichel is that sweater, he is that pair of socks. It is not the present that you hoped for, but you know inside that you needed it, and that it will be useful for years to come. Yet, it is not that special shiny new toy that would have made you happiest, and set you apart from the rest for the rest of your life.