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.
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