What to Expect from Sabres’ Potential Picks

With the World Cup officially kicked off and taking over the country’s sporting conscience for the next three or four weeks (or, at least until the US is eliminated) the NHL Draft is now less than two weeks away and rapidly approaching. The Sabres, as everyone knows by now, hold the 2nd overall selection and a pair of 2nd round selections. With news that Tim Murray is looking to acquire another 1st round pick the team should have ample opportunity to find young talent to help speed up the rebuild.

Rightly so, the 2nd overall selection is garnering the most chatter amongst fans and media alike. While people have every right to be optimistic about the prospect of grabbing a top end talent with the 2nd selection, many members of the MSM and fan base think that drafting 2nd is a lay up, and are under the impression that whoever the Sabres tab as their selection (and defacto new face of the franchise) will single-handedly lead the team out of the abyss and one day have their number hanging next to Gare, LaFontaine, and the French Connection.

While I’m all for optimism, I think it’s best to rein in expectations just a bit. This is not to say I don’t think the team will end up with a very talented player, in fact I’m very confident that Tim Murray and his staff will make the right choice at number two. That being said every draft slot has its fair share of Patrik Stefans and Brian Lawtons; nothing is guaranteed.

It is widely known that the NHL Draft more resembles the MLB Draft rather than the NFL or NBA when it comes to draft picks actually having impactful careers, and that average career numbers decrease significantly with each pick and round. The drop is obviously not as precipitous from pick to pick in the first round when compared to picks in the second round and beyond, but it is still apparent.

Sam Bennett could be a Sabre in 11 days

It is expected that either Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett will be Buffalo Sabres come June 27, so let’s look at forwards selected in the top five. When looking at the top five picks in the draft dating back to 1970, forwards that were selected first overall had an average career of 840 games and put up just under 800 points. Compare that with forwards selected 5th overall; those players averaged 619 games and 430 points, a career that is over three season shorter, on average, than those picked just four spots higher. Those who went 2nd overall played an average of 755 games and amassed 616 points. Continue reading

Murray will have few partners in his quest to get back into the first round

Tim Murray dropped a bombshell at the GM meetings when he told Pierre LeBrun that he wants another first round selection in the upcoming draft and that he’s willing to take on salary in order to accomplish that goal.

Perhaps it wasn’t a bombshell so much as an indication that Murray plans on being busy ahead of and through this month’s draft. Here’s his quote from LeBrun’s column:

“I can’t imagine I would trade the second overall pick,” Murray said. “I’d like to get a couple of more first-round picks and I have those three third-rounders to us. I certainly know you can’t trade a second for a first, but you might take some money back in a deal to do that and I do have to get to the [cap] floor. There are different ways to get to the floor so I’m exploring all that.”

Continue reading

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