Ted Black knew the answer could get him in trouble. The goal of the Buffalo Sabres, after all, is to win the Stanley Cup. With fans on the verge of crumpling useless playoff invoices, the Cup doesn’t seem to be in the immediate future.

But Black, the team president, is more of a big-picture guy. He analyzed the organization now compared to when Terry Pegula assumed ownership in February 2011, and he plowed ahead with his answer despite anticipated cries to the contrary.

“Do I think we’re better off now than we were when Terry bought the team?” Black said Wednesday. “I think we’re closer to building that roster that is going to win the Stanley Cup, so I’ll have to say yes.”

Sabres management and ownership still believe they are on a path to a championship, although it’s a different path than they originally mapped. They’re disappointed the goal likely won’t be achieved during their initial time frame of three years – the Sabres enter tonight’s home game against Montreal in 23rd place overall – but they see positives on a macro level that outweigh the obvious issues along the micro plane.

“The good news is our owner is going to be patient with doing everything he can to build a championship team and not at the expense of building a team that’s just good enough to make the playoffs,” Black said during a nearly two-hour lunch meeting. “Everything else needs to fall in place from there. I think what we need to do is just let the fans know how we’re going about trying to do this.”

The plan involves rebuilding from within through the draft, and Black says it’s already well under way.

The Sabres had two first-round picks last year and one second-round selection. They have a pair in each round this June. Through the recent trades of Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold, they have a total of two first- and five second-round picks in 2014 and '15.

That’s a collection of six first-rounders and eight second-rounders in a four-year span. By comparison, it took them 10 years (2002 to 2011) to draft the same number of second-rounders and six years ('06 to '11) to select an equal number of first-round prospects.

“That’s a total of 14 top-60 picks,” Black said of the current stockpile. “We need to be right more often than we’re wrong. In that case, we’ll have eight players that will be impact players. That’s better than a third of your roster.”