By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 16: March 23, 1999 – The Sabres trade Mike Wilson to Florida for Rhett Warrener and a 1999 fifth-round draft choice (Ryan Miller).
One time a Sabre scout went up to Ontario to see a junior defenseman named Mike Wilson play. “Why can’t we ever get guys like that?” the scout asked after the game, for Wilson was a dominating presence. It took a while – Buffalo had to trade for his rights down the road – but Wilson eventually became a Sabre.
The defenseman was a regular on the 1997 team that won a division title, but by the spring of 1999 there was a feeling that he wasn’t going to live up to his potential. Perhaps some other team had an interest in trying to help him do that. Florida was that team, and agreed to trade Rhett Warrener and a draft pick to the Sabres for Wilson. There were no complaints about this swap in Buffalo from the start. Wilson spent most of the rest of his career playing in the minors or overseas. Warrener was a great fit for the Sabres, a rugged defenseman for four-plus years here who helped the team reach the NHL Finals in 1999.
However, it was the low draft choice that made this something special. Buffalo took a chance on a goaltender named Ryan Miller in the fifth round. He soon became one of the nation’s top college goalies at Michigan State. Once Miller joined the Sabres, he was part of some very good teams in the 2000s and ranked as one of the best goalies in the world.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)