Part two of the Shaping the Sabres series centers around the entry draft in Sunrise, FL.
Chris: With our predraft trades locked away, that brings us to the draft table in Sunrise. I’d love to manufacture a deal using Buffalo’s other high picks and a prospect or two to grab an NHL-ready right winger. However, I’m unsure that the 21st and 31st picks along with a combination of prospects could land the type of top-six talent the Sabres need.
For example, players like Nino Niederretier and Wayne Simmonds are highly valued assets who are vital pieces for their respective franchises. Even including a prospect like Hudson Fasching or Justin Bailey wouldn’t likely get such a deal done, and adding anything else would make the offer from the Buffalo end far too lopsided. But that would still be the first avenue I explore.
Assuming any wingers worth chasing are out of the question, there are two players in the draft not named McDavid or Eichel who I am very high on: Timo Meier and Zach Werenski.
Meier was a late riser who posted 90 points with Halifax this year while Werenski was dynamic as a freshman at Michigan. Werenski will need to slip to at least ninth or tenth overall to be an option for the Sabres while Meier has been pegged anywhere from eight or nine to the mid-teens. I’d take the guess work out of the equation and ship a package including the 21st and 31st picks to Colorado to secure the 10th pick. I’d even include an additional pick – perhaps a 3rd in 2016 – to help grease the rails.
Picking between the two (specifically Meier and Werenski) would be a mighty challenge. The organizational need for defensemen is obvious and grabbing a swift skating, left handed puck mover like Werenski would see me drafting for need and talent.
However, Meier is lauded as one of the few players in the draft who are nearly pro ready. Even if he isn’t ready for game one, snagging someone who would be that much closer to an NHL role (on the right wing no less) would be a boon for the rebuild.
While it would be difficult to choose between the two if they were both available at 10, Meier is the player I’m going with. There’s something about him that I love. He was dynamic at the CHL Top Prospects Game and plays a heavy style. If the chips fall the right way he may even slot into a role with the big club this season, although that’s admittedly a long shot.
One question I have for you before you dive into any draft plans, do you roll the dice and offer sheet Hamilton should your trade offer be rebuffed? And is your offer sheet enough to keep the Bruins from matching?
Tyler: If my offer for Dougie Hamilton gets shot down, I definitely plan on inking him to an offer sheet. As per Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts, the players would now consider using the full growth factor as allowed by the CBA; doing so would likely mean the cap for next season would land around $71 million.
If that gets done the Bruins would have roughly $6.9 million in cap space to sign Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, and Matt Bartkowski on the blue line, plus five forwards who saw significant ice and a goaltender to backup Tuukka Rask (I think Malcolm Subban would benefit from another year in Providence despite your interest in him). While Carl Soderberg has been informed he won’t be re-signed, that’s still a lot of heavy lifting to do with not a lot of room to maneuver. I figure a 5 year, $27 million dollar offer should be enough to pry Hamilton out of Boston. The $5.4 AAV of the contract is just about the most you can give up and remain in the range where compensation remains a 1st round selection and a 3rd round selection; I’m not willing to give up a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd next year. While I think this offer gets the job done, if Boston decides to match it will significantly hamper their ability to sign impact free agents this offseason, as well as influence how they go about re-signing key players in 2016.
I agree with you when it comes to the Neiderreiter and Simmonds type players being out of the Sabres’ price range, especially in the case of Wayne Simmonds.
When it comes to moving up, I’m pretty solidly on the fence. I don’t think Werenski slips into that 10-12 range to make moving up for him feasible, but that same range could land you Timo Meier or even Mikko Rantanen. I’m a fan of Meier as well; while he has the size to play more of a power forward type game he also has the skill to put the puck in the net in the offensive zone. If one (or both) is available between 10-12 I’m inquiring as to what the price would be to move up at the very least. The two teams I’m willing to deal with are Colorado, at 10th overall, and Dallas, with the 12th pick.
If Meier is available at 12 (and I think he will be), I’m dealing with Dallas. Dallas strikes me as a better trade partner than Colorado not only because they’re two places further down the order, but because of their team needs. They aren’t in desperate need to add more scoring punch to a team that averaged over three goals per game, and have a decent young defensive corps in the making; moving back and adding an extra pick or two may well be in their best interest.
We’re thinking along the same lines in terms of the package to move up. When the Sabres moved up to 14th to grab Zemgus Girgensons they sent 21st and 41st overall to Calgary, so I think 21st and 31st for 12th overall is a fair deal for both teams. The Sabres currently own the Stars’ 2016 3rd round pick from the Jhonas Enroth trade, and if I need to give it back to get up to 12th then I pull the trigger.
After all is said and done, I leave Sunrise with Jack Eichel, Timo Meier, Eddie Lack and an offer sheet ready to be sent to Dougie Hamilton. Not a bad spot to be as July 1 approaches.