Sabres still in a position of power despite losing lottery

Given that the Sabres had a 75% chance of not winning the draft lottery last night, there shouldn’t be much surprise or disappointment in Buffalo receiving the second overall pick. My disappointment lies in the two posts I wrote on Monday that needed to be drastically altered because of the result.

The consensus on this year’s draft is that the top four or five prospects are at a level above most others in the draft. This also happens to be a draft that will differ from the last two or three that preceded it in that there is no clear cut favorite to be picked first overall. Rather, the top four or five players are the consensus favorites to be selected at the top with the rest of the first round being described with any number of synonyms for average.

While the Sabres missed out on having their pick of the litter, they’re truly not at a disadvantage having to pick second. In fact, you could argue that they’re in a better situation but I’m not about to try and justify why not picking first could possibly not be the best possible scenario. I will say that the Sabres are not hamstrung for not having won the lottery. Perhaps the best possible scenario would have seen the Islanders win the lottery, but having the Panthers leapfrog the Sabres won’t have a resounding affect on the direction the Sabres go with their selection.

It would appear as if Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kingston forward Sam Bennett and Kootenay center Sam Reinhart have established themselves as the top three prospects in the draft. Although Leon Draisaitl is considered to be right there with Reinhart and possibly even Bennett at the top.

Tim Murray repeatedly said that he is going to take the best player available regardless of position. Reading those tea leaves could point you in a number of different directions. While the Panthers aren’t guaranteed to take a particular player, the Sabres decision won’t be altered at two. In fact, the Sabres could very well end up with the exact player they wanted at one even after the Panthers pick, something that Murray confirmed last night. Continue reading

Poll: Who will win the draft lotto? The Sabres or the field?

The 2014 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight and after 82 games of suffering the Sabres hold the most lottery balls.

Buffalo will have a 25% chance at retaining the first overall pick with the rest of the non-playoff teams making up the other 75% of the chances. If you’re playing along at home that means that the Sabres have a better chance at picking second than they do of picking first.

The precise draft odds are on the internet now that the NHL released all of the pertinent information for tonight’s drawing, and this is how the breakdown looks for the 14 teams who missed the playoffs:

Buffalo Sabres – 25.0%

Florida Panthers – 18.8%

Edmonton Oilers – 14.2%

Calgary Flames – 10.7%

New York Islanders – 8.1%

Vancouver Canucks – 6.2%

Carolina Hurricanes – 4.7%

Toronto Maple Leafs – 3.6%

Winnipeg Jets – 2.7%

Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) – 2.1%

New Jersey Devils – 1.5%

Nashville Predators – 1.1%

Phoenix Coyotes – 0.8%

Washington Capitals – 0.5%

Once again, the Sabres hold the most lottery balls due to their 30th place finish, but they still face long odds on actually keeping that pick. For example, the Panthers, Oilers and Flames have a combined 43.7% chance of winning the lottery, so the Sabres aren’t a shoo-in for the first pick just yet.

Of course, if the Sabres lose the lottery they only drop one spot in the draft order. So the Sabres are guaranteed to pick no worse than second overall this year. It’s not a bad consolation prize, particularly in a draft where there isn’t necessarily a clear cut number one prospect.

Regardless of how things transpire tonight the Sabres are all but assured to end up with either Ekblad, Bennett or Reinhart.

I think I’m going to go with The Field in this case, but who are you taking? The Sabres or The Field.