We won't know who the Sabres will really select until sometime Friday night but for today we get to pretend. All of the blogs here on SB Nation have been doing a mock draft behind the scenes with the picks posted over at SB Nation.com.
It was a tough process trying to figure out who to draft because I wanted to take into account what the team would do, while taking my own ideas into consideration. In making the decision I ruled out any Europeans because that has been the trend for the Sabres in recent years. The Sabres have also been very public about their desire to get bigger, which of course meant I was looking for a player with size.
The first option would be to draft a power forward because the team lacks offensive depth at the AHL level and beyond, while the defensive corps is stacked with talented, potential NHL-caliber players. While power-forward as the top of my list, the best player available has to be the strategy at number 23. It is crap shoot to draft 18 year-old players and project what type of player they will be when they are 22 or 23.
I had a few power forwards in mind but with players like Austin Watson and Riley Sheahan off the board, I was forced to look in another direction. I narrowed down the choices to USNTDP U-18 defenseman Jared Tinordi and Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Dylan McIlrath. The final decision was to select the toughest player in the draft, Dylan McIlrath.
McIlrath is a big, tough kid that plays with a chip on his shoulder. He makes his presence felt every time he steps on the ice and opposing forwards always take note of where he is. He had 169 penalty minutes playing for Moose Jaw in the WHL and many of those minutes were accumulated by protecting his goalie. That has been an issue in recent years with players taking liberties with Ryan Miller with little or no repercussions.
The Sabres would probably prefer to draft a forward at this position but it would be difficult to pass on McIlrath if he is available at number 23.