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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Caught in a draft

     June 21, 1997 -- Draft day is usually an interesting time in the National Hockey League, sometimes in hindsight more than at the time.

     The 1997 NHL Entry Draft was held on this day in Pittsburgh. Buffalo had the 21st pick in the first round, which meant it had to do some sitting and waiting.

     The first five players turned out to be good ones. Joe Thornton went to the Bruins first overall. Roberto Luongo was the fourth player selected (Islanders), and Marian Hossa went 12th (Senators).

     When it was the Sabres' turn, they pulled a bit of a surprise by taking goalie Mika Noronen from Finland.

     "The staff did not feel he would be available in the second round," Sabres GM Darcy Regier said at the time about the pick.

     Henrik Tallinder went second, and the defenseman made a good contribution to the Sabres during his time here. But Buffalo wasn't done yet.

     Maxim Afinogenov of Russia was taken in the third round, and then Brian Campbell went to Buffalo in the sixth round. They both were notable players for the franchise eventually.

--- Budd Bailey

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