I Like Eich

The Sabres may not have won the draft lottery, but they certainly didn’t lose anything. Edmonton will pick first (again) much to the chagrin of pretty much everyone who doesn’t live in Edmonton proper, but that’s okay.

I Like Eich.

The Sabres will more than likely be adding Jack Eichel to their teeming pool of prospects to top off the rebuild that was set in place by Darcy Regier two years earlier. Eichel will join the likes of Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov to form one of the most promising young cores in the league.

Many Sabres fans may be upset with not getting McDavid and while that’s understandable, this season wasn’t really about getting McDavid – despite what you may have taken from Tim Murray’s comments – it was about ensuring they would be guaranteed a generational player and that player is Eichel.

To celebrate the coming of Buffalo’s new prize, I put together a little poster project for your enjoyment. Like the other “posters” I’ve created, these aren’t actually poster sized but simply a fun graphic that can be used at your discretion. I’ve also included two phone background versions below the main version if you wish to adorn your lock screen with the I Like Eich campaign poster.

Enjoy and Go Sabres.

Jack Eichel Sabres

UPDATED: New Eichel backgrounds featuring the player in Sabres gear. Enjoy.

GalaxyJack Eichel Galaxy phone wallpaper


iPhoneJack Eichel iphone background

Who poses a threat to Mission McDavid in 2015?

With the 2014 NHL Draft just a few days away, the Sabres will be making the second highest selection in franchise history that should serve as a major piece of their current rebuild. While the Sabres’ 30th place finish this year ensured them a top-two selection at the draft, the real prize sits atop the 2015 NHL Draft when Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are set to be picked first and second (not necessarily in that order).

While Tim Murray hasn’t come out and said it, the Sabres aren’t expected to compete for much more than the right to pick one of those two elite talents as yet another building block on the way to a Stanley Cup. Murray and the Sabres are in a good position for 2015 as they hold three picks in the first round, giving them that much more of a chance to score the first pick. While St. Louis’ pick (acquired as part of the Ryan Miller trade) won’t have any sort of effect on Buffalo’s lottery chances, it’s possible that the Islanders’ pick does provide some additional support. Ideally the Islanders would suffer through an ugly season and give the Sabres a massive boost towards snagging first overall. The worst case scenario is that they sneak into the playoffs and give the Sabres two picks in the bottom 15 selections of the round.

There won’t be any change made to the NHL Draft Lottery for next season, so the 30th place club will have a 25% chance to get the first pick with the odds decreasing with each subsequent finisher. So the Sabres could wind up in the exact position they’re in now. No matter how teams are posturing today doesn’t prevent five clubs from finishing between 25 and 30 in the standings and holding the top odds for a very valuable lottery.

I’ve taken the time to run through each club and give my opinion on the current trend they’re following (up, down or neutral), if they own their pick next season and the threat they are to wind up in the lottery. The lottery threat scale goes from one-to-five, with one being the most likely a team is to wind up at the bottom of the league and the top of the draft. Each team’s trend is more subjective as many teams were considered neutral despite having very different circumstances.

Buffalo’s own ranks would give them a downward (perhaps neutral) trend with a level one threat as a major player in the lottery. The Sabres will certainly make some moves this offseason but I don’t foresee anything on the horizon that will drastically turn the team’s fortunes around. The Sabres will certainly be a player for the first pick next year, although the odds certainly weigh against them landing McDavid. 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

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.