The recent debate over the course of action the Sabres should take in the first round of this year’s draft has added to the trend of blue chip prospects entering the NHL as 18-year olds. It also would appear that development of NHL prospects is slowly changing the yearly event from a futures draft to an event that produces players that are prepared to enter the league almost immediately.
With the salary cap pressing out those players with mid-level salaries, young, ultra-talented prospects have begun to be fast tracked into the NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers’ use of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier makes for a great example of this. Even the Sabres have seen Luke Adam, Tyler Ennis and Tyler Myers make a quick jump to the show.
Because of the trend away from a two or three-year development to a track closer to 18 months (or shorter), picks in the top five have become that much more valuable as compared to years past. In fact, dating back to the Crosby draft, Erik Johnson is the only first overall pick not to enter the league as an 18-year old. With Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk and Ryan Murray all lurking atop this year’s draft, there is room for more NHL ready talent to be selected.
Yakupov and Murray are almost shoo-ins to step into the NHL next season. Meanwhile, Galchenyuk, Matt Dumba and Mikhail Grigorenko are also good bets to make a run after their first NHL training camp.
While Darcy Regier all but shut the book on any possibility of trading up in the draft, I remain a proponent of making a run for one of the picks that would yield the young center. I see Glachenyuk as the number one center the Sabres so desperately need and likely won’t find on the open trade market. However, Regier seems to be content with keeping his four picks and stocking the cupboards. Based on the trend of the NHL draft, the case could be made for trading up or standing pat. Continue reading